OECD Secretary-General

Visit to the OECD by Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany


Introductory Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General

Paris, France, 19 February 2013
(as prepared for delivery)

Dear Chancellor Merkel, Ambassadors, Colleagues, Friends,

It is my great honour and pleasure to welcome Chancellor Merkel to the OECD to discuss Germany’s challenges and its role in the world economy. We are eagerly looking forward to hearing the Chancellor’s insights today, as we share a deep commitment and passion for a better and brighter future for Germany, for Europe and for the world at large.

Germany: Expanding its Relationship with the OECD

Germany has expanded its relationship with the OECD into new territory. For example, during Germany’s presidency of the G8 in 2007, Chancellor Merkel gave us several mandates, and called on the OECD to support the Heliegendamn process, which was a pioneering effort to create a broader dialogue between the G8 and the most important emerging economies.

Also, during its G8 Presidency, Germany made innovative strides to enhance cooperation amongst international organizations, which we also highly value at the OECD, through the G8/G20 process and with annual meetings between the Chancellor and the heads of the IMF, WB, ILO, WTO, and the OECD. The next will be next May in Berlin.

Germany championed, along with France and the UK, the OECD’s contributions in the area of taxation, and our work on the Automatic Exchange of Information as THE single, global standard for tax purposes. Germany also helped us to deliver on the G20/OECD Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), to ensure that, when it comes to tax systems, everyone pays their fair share. I will be reporting to the finance ministers of the G20 in Sydney this week, about our progress on the tax agenda.

Germany is also a key a contributor to the work of the OECD

Beyond the G8 and G20, Germany - and Chancellor Merkel personally - have helped to advance many areas of work at the OECD. Together, we focused on the urgent task of reviving competitiveness and productivity in Europe, with the launch of the Better Policies Series on Economic Challenges and Policy Recommendations for the Euro Area, and investing in people’s skills and well-being. Chancellor Merkel’s policy agenda mirrors our own: go structural, go social and go green!

We are also active partners in the field of development, turning the “D” in the OECD’s name to also stand for “Deutschland”. Ambassador Heimsoeth’s is presently the Chair of the Development Centre’s Governing Board, and we are grateful for Germany’s strong support of our work with Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. And Germany has been a key leader, along with Korea, in launching the Knowledge Sharing Alliance, which works to transmit development experiences to developing countries.

Germany is the strongest pillar of the European economy

Germany is Europe’s strongest economic powerhouse, and a key actor in the world economy. Known as THE “export engine,” it contributes to improving the growth outlook of the region as a whole.

Unemployment in Germany is at an impressive low. Although job losses are still mounting across Europe, in Germany, unemployment is at 5.1%, which is almost half the rate of nearly 10 years ago. And the German “dual” system of vocational training and professional education has also become a reference model for combating high youth unemployment in other countries

But Germany is not without its challenges

Nevertheless, the country is not without its challenges and we have had a good discussion with the Chancellor and identified important areas that could contribute to its competitiveness, including the strengthening of the innovation system, enhancing productivity in the services sector, and placing greater weight on investing in the under-skilled. Germany must also tackle issues like going green, a topic dear to the Chancellor’s heart as former Minister of Environment, and energy sector reform. Population ageing, bringing more women into the workforce, and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship are also key. The OECD aims to support policymakers in tackling these issues with our latest publication on Germany, our “Keeping the Edge: Competitiveness for Inclusive Growth”.

Fortunately, with Chancellor Merkel at the helm, we can be confident that Germany is “in good hands. ” Not only has Chancellor Merkel been a steady, guiding force throughout the crisis, she is also a highly respected and popular leader in her country, having achieved a historic victory for her party during the national elections last fall. Her effective and decisive leadership is strongly acknowledged, as is her pivotal role in steering Germany, and Europe, to calmer waters.

So, I’d like to turn the floor to Chancellor Merkel, and ask her to share with us some of her wisdom and insights first-hand. Chancellor Merkel, thank you again for this wonderful opportunity. The floor is yours.