Andreas schwarz (spd) on forchheim in the corona crisis: “doing instead of complaining”

Andreas schwarz elected deputy budget spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group in the bundestag. In an interview with FT editors stephan grobmann and ekkehard roepert, the 55-year-old explains how he intends to champion our region:

This year you wanted to become a district administrator for your neighbors in bamberg – in vain. How brave they are to return to berlin?

Andreas schwarz: not at all, that was an insane result. It has never happened before in the district of bamberg that an incumbent CSU district councilor had to take part in a runoff election. Democracy is like that, the majority decides. I can live with 42 percent as a social democrat. In berlin this did not make my life more difficult – on the contrary.

So no consolation prize bundestag?

I always see my life like this: wherever I am placed, I have to perform. If possible 100 percent. Whether I do it in the bamberg district office or as mayor of strullendorf back then or now in the bundestag: where I am, people deliver.

You are one of our mouthpieces in the capital – what are the questions you are most often confronted with from forchheim??

Yesterday, for example, I spoke with representatives of the travel industry. They are badly hit by the crisis at the moment. Besides the corona crisis, we also need to take a look at the automotive sector in the region. If you look at the federal government’s current economic stimulus package, there will be a lot of changes in the medical sector, which also affects the forchheim region. Funds are being made available – this is a chance for the region to develop further.

How does forchheim get through the corona crisis from your point of view??

I have the impression that the government is being prudent but courageous. Forchheim’s mayor, uwe kirschstein, is someone who is prepared to take a chance and not panic. Forchheim, and also bamberg, are moving in calm waters. This is also due to the fact that it is an economically strong region. So you can certainly deal with crises better than an economically beleaguered one could. With all the problems and difficulties that exist, we still live almost in an oasis of happiness compared to other regions.

Is this only due to the economic strength or perhaps also to the mentality of the people here??

For sure: here we don’t complain, here we do things. Grumbling yes, but not complaining. (laughs) we are now noticing this all over germany. It is a strong country – this is our chance. The crisis is affecting the whole world and there will be some winners in the end. I would wish that germany would not come out of this crisis as a loser.

You have already mentioned the federal government’s economic stimulus package. It is supposed to be 130 billion euros and relieve the burden on consumers and municipalities with many measures. Will you vote for it in the bundestag?

My first thought was, wow. There are 57 measures, so everyone has been thought of. But providing money is one thing. It’s simple. The art will be the outflow and to make the country future-proof.

Municipalities are drawing up concepts, entrepreneurs are being creative – now it’s up to the politicians, who have already sent out a signal with the stimulus package. What’s at the top of your agenda?

One is the tourism and gastronomy sectors, which strongly characterize our region. We have to make sure that big operators like tui don’t try to get healthy at the expense of small travel agencies. Then we have to keep in mind that in the economic stimulus package a rough hydrogen package has been tied up, also an electric package. We have a lot of automotive suppliers here – they should get their share of the pie. We have to redirect some of the money from the package to the region.

The fact that the internal combustion engine has dropped out of the challenge will probably not cause any jubilation among some in the region…

I don’t think buying a car is at the top of people’s list right now. Family bonus, sales tax – these will have more impact. And the automotive industry is also required. Just not through incentives to buy cars. She should think about what the engine technology and mobility of the future should look like. Here billions are made available and there the money is also invested more sensibly.

You mentioned mobilitat. In forchheim, a dispute is smoldering between the district and the district town over the opnv because of the conditions. If the offers do not improve, especially in the rural areas, the car will probably never lose its importance in the region. Do you have any ideas for solving this problem??

It can only be done together. Opnv costs money, we must not deceive ourselves. And it will only work if it is reasonably affordable for the customer and if there is good timing. The economic stimulus package contains money for this purpose. Then the district administrator and the mayor must sit down at the same table and find a solution. We could even think more broadly: bamberg would be another cooperation partner or erlangen.

So we need a regional bus station (ROB) in forchheim, too, like the one being debated in bamberg right now?

For me, this is a question of quality. I can dock more than trains and buses at an ROB – carsharing, bikesharing. A ROB distributes and directs traffic, so it makes sense.

You are now deputy. Budget policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group in the bundestag. "[…I will support projects and legislative initiatives that will help people and businesses in our region better cope with this crisis, especially in this time of crisis in corona.", they say. What do you mean exactly?

On the one hand, the transformation of the economy, in terms of innovation. We need to look at the needs of our sports and cultural venues. There is a fund for the protection of historical monuments, from which the town hall of forchheim, for example, has benefited to the tune of more than seven million euros. We have to sit down with local people and companies and ask them: do you have a smart idea for opnv or environmental and climate protection for which we can launch a pilot project with federal funding?. There is much possible at the moment.

Do you seriously believe that the mountains of debt we have taken on will not ruin us for generations to come??

Money costs nothing at the moment. (laughs) I’m sure economic processes are also being turned upside down at the moment. But if we invest the money wisely and get a good return to make the country more modern, competitive and sustainable, then it will be money well spent. It took a crisis for us to take this step. Because it’s not exactly the german mentality to run into debt.

The package is intended to help municipalities financially. We can assume that this year, because of corona, even more will be achieved than expected?

This government was already the most community-friendly germany has ever had. It is important that the municipalities are and remain capable of acting. This is where life takes place. I assume that we will be able to manage this sensibly. It can’t be because of the business tax that a municipality doesn’t invest – it’s balanced out. In addition, there are investment packages for daycare centers and sports and cultural facilities.

As burgers, we can certainly look forward to a number of things being implemented in the coming months – with a view to the election…

The fact that there are federal elections in 2021 doesn’t make things any worse for people. (laughs) some people are more willing to talk during an election campaign, and some things can certainly be done a little faster.


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