Daniel Mack actively participated in politics for “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” for nine years, until he joined Daimler in the External Affairs/Politics and External Relations department at the beginning of the year. Today he represents the interests of our company in Berlin. We spoke with him about his past as a member of parliament, about the automotive industry's responsibility to society and why he still wears his 1988 Eintracht Frankfurt jersey today.
Mr. Mack, you were a member of the state parliament of Hessen: On which "side" do you like it better?
I don't think that we are always on different sides. I became politically active 15 years ago because I had a conviction that I still hold today: environment and economy, climate protection and wealth are not opposites. In my view, the transformation to a more sustainable economy can only succeed with companies and never against them. This is a challenge that we have to face up to. Some are pushing climate protection on the streets, others in parliament and we as a company are doing the same. That's why I believe it's the right task at the right time.
What experiences as a parliamentarian do you still benefit from today?
My time in local politics is the basis for many things today. It was always about the people, their problems, the intensive exchange with each other and concrete solutions. We didn't discuss billions of euros, but rather the timing of local transport, the renovation of roads, the role of transport in the countryside. The car always plays a key role here. All these experiences have given me a quite comprehensive view of mobility in society, especially individual mobility and the various approaches. It's useless for me to sit in an office in Berlin and know the challenges only in theory. Here, too, we as Daimler have to be aware of the challenges, but so do politicians.
Your area of expertise is "Automotive and Environmental Policy". What does this mean?
Every day, we are dealing very intensively with important future topics that are related to our products in the present as well as in the future. How are the vehicles produced? Keyword "CO2-neutral production". What technologies drive these vehicles? What requirements must be met for our ideas of data-driven business models to work? We are looking at the entire chain: starting with production, continuing with usage, the question of future infrastructure, and ending with recycling. In addition, of course, the role of the car in society - especially in comparison to other forms of transport - is also an issue. I believe that the car will not disappear either in the countryside or in the cities because too many people depend on it and appreciate it. We will have to address many questions more intensively and need workable concepts that will find acceptance.
You are located in Berlin. How important is the close contact to politics? How can we imagine your work?
I am looking specifically for an exchange with members of parliament, NGOs and other companies, including representatives of the federal states in Berlin, because Daimler is represented in almost all of Germany's federal states. It's all about what drives the federal government, the German “Bundestag” and the German “Bundesrat”. Our task here is to make our position clear and represent our interests with arguments in order to achieve solutions. This is a crucial point which, in my view, is not highlighted enough: It is also simply a matter of listening. What is currently going on in federal politics? We reflect these discussions back into the company, as they can be important for our future.
And the distance to politics? How do you set yourself up in Berlin?
I have been active in politics for nine years. Thus, it’s definitely not possible to make an non-political person out of me anymore. I'm interested in where we are going as a society and why we are doing this. For me personally, it is always important to make a clear difference between the levels at which we meet: private or professional? I make a clear separation between the two.
Our office in Berlin is responsible for federal politics. Of course I exchange a lot of information with politicians, that's my job. It's not enough to know the telephone numbers, but, as with every dialog, a relationship of trust is important.
Lobbying or representation of interests often has a negative connotation. What is the reason for this?
At the heart of democracy is the fact that goals can be achieved through discourse in various ways. This takes place in parties and political groups, but also at home at the kitchen table and also in companies. The society we live in, all the things we can find outside - good roads, good childcare, nursing, universities - in the end only works with good and healthy companies.
The exchange and sharing of expert knowledge is extremely crucial for democracy. Based on different opinions and on the results of many discussions, laws are made that guide issues in one direction or another. This is an important part of democracy. Of course, contributions about "evil" lobbying can be shared more quickly via social media. It is true that there is sometimes a lack of transparency and understanding. The lobby register, which the coalition parties “Union” and “SPD” now want to bring forward, will hopefully help to reduce prejudices.
Why is it important for us as a company to keep up the dialogue with politics & business?
Companies are political players. The automotive industry in Germany has an annual tax revenue of around 94 billion euros. Daimler has about 170,000 employees in Germany. That is more than the population of Darmstadt, for example. In every corner of the world, we carry a huge responsibility along the entire value chain. Through the size of the company, our social responsibility, and our cooperation with the supply industry, we ensure social stability in entire regions. Another point is: We can shape the future through our products. When it comes to technology or sustainability, we have a responsibility to help shape this progress.
What is the biggest challenge for the transformation of the automotive industry?
We want to use less material, reduce the consumption of resources and cut the emissions of our products. If you want to sum it up in a simplified way, we are concerned with making more out of less. We must ensure that the population growth no longer happens at the cost of the earth. We play a key role when it comes to the question of how CO2-neutral mobility is possible. We are among those who can, or even have to, provide an answer to this question. It is our responsibility to shape this transformation based on how we develop products, how they are driven, and how digital solutions in the car might look like. We have a product with a beautiful design that is visible on the road and to which everyone can develop an attitude. But a product that also lets you see when things change.
Politics and economy should ...
"... not be seen as counterparts. Great things can only be achieved together.”
For me, acting sustainably means privately ...
"... to wear my ‘Eintracht Frankfurt’ jersey from 1988 for so long and to fix it over and over again until it’s absolutely not fixable anymore.”
I like to get up in the morning, because ...
"... I am looking forward to the Frankfurt area local part of the FAZ. (German newspaper)”