The Federal Minister of Economics reacts to a complaint email from a businessman from North Rhine-Westphalia and quickly calls him. He then reports enthusiastically about his conversation with Habeck.
On a Wednesday evening at the end of January, Alexander Zimmer experienced something that he won’t soon forget. The entrepreneur from Monheim’s phone rings. Robert Habeck, the Federal Minister of Economics (Greens), is on the other end of the line. The two talk on the phone for a little more than ten minutes. “In the phone call I experienced a person who was deeply sincere, decent and honest with me,” says Zimmer. Habeck is someone who wants to understand where there are problems in order to improve things.
Zimmer is managing director of Marienburg in Monheim. He runs a conference and congress center in the old mansion in the town on the right bank of the Rhine, and there is also a guest house, a restaurant and a grill academy on the site. A year and a half ago, in May 2022, he submitted an application for funding for renewable energies – but still received no response.
At the beginning of January, Zimmer therefore wrote an email to Habecks Haus, the responsible Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection. He described his frustration and complained that entrepreneurs like him were being slowed down by long approval processes and bureaucracy. Habeck took this as an opportunity to call. Zimmer is then full of praise. “That’s encouraging,” he says.
It is not an isolated case of the minister picking up the phone
It is apparently not an isolated case that the minister picks up the phone. The calls began last year “at irregular intervals, as time permits,” said a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Economics when asked. “It is important to Minister Habeck to respond directly to inquiries and criticism, to listen and find out where there are problems and what can be improved.” Regarding the selection of conversation partners, she said that they were primarily people who, for example, turned to the citizens’ dialogue or signaled the need for discussion in other ways.
A week and a half after his email, Zimmer’s application was approved by the ministry. The entrepreneur published an article about his Habeck anecdote on the career platform LinkedIn. The world is full of crises, so it is important to show “that occasionally something good happens.” Zimmer would like to continue the exchange with the minister. “We want to stay in touch. For me that’s a sign that it’s not a PR stunt.”