HANNOVER (dpa-AFX) - Hanover is once again the meeting place for industry for a week. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the Prime Minister of this year's partner country Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, opened the exhibition on Sunday evening, together with numerous representatives from business and politics. Around 4000 exhibitors from 60 countries will be showcasing innovations in mechanical and plant engineering, electrical engineering and climate protection technologies until Friday.

Chancellor Scholz hopes that the Hannover Messe will provide new impetus for the energy transition and strengthen the competitiveness of German industry. "What our country will continue to live from in the future is what can be seen here at this trade fair: that we develop new things, that we continuously improve products, that we research and apply forward-looking technologies," said Scholz on Sunday evening at the opening of the world's largest exhibition for mechanical and electrical engineering.

Focus on artificial intelligence

With its focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and solutions for the energy transition, the industrial show is setting important priorities, said the SPD politician. After all, affordable energy and more innovation are the key prerequisites for boosting productivity and growth. This requires intelligent AI solutions such as those on show at the trade fair: "Machines that do simple tasks for us so that employees can switch to more highly skilled jobs."

Numerous technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon Web Services, Dell, SAP, Siemens and Bosch are also represented at the trade fair. There are also a number of medium-sized companies and more than 300 start-ups. More than 500 exhibitors belong to the hydrogen sector alone. "This also makes Hannover Messe the world leader in this field," said Exhibition Director Jochen Kockler.

This year's partner country, Norway, was also deliberately chosen with this topic in mind. This is because the Nordic country is able to supply large quantities of green, i.e. climate-friendly, hydrogen thanks to its abundance of hydropower. "Especially in times when the focus is on secure and clean energy supplies as a prerequisite for industrial transformation, a pioneer like Norway is the perfect partner country for Hannover Messe," said Scholz. In addition, the country has proven to be a reliable gas supplier during the energy crisis. "We have Norway to thank in particular for the fact that we have managed to become completely independent of Russian energy within just a few months."

Norwegian Prime Minister Støre said that Germany was Norway's most important partner in Europe. Further strengthening this partnership was of great importance to him.

"We need to become faster and simpler"

The business community has recently criticized high energy prices and too much bureaucracy. From the industry's perspective, this jeopardizes the attractiveness of the location, especially in comparison to other regions such as the USA. Scholz emphasized: "Of course, a modern supply policy also means that we need to become faster and simpler. We are in complete agreement on that."

The federal government has already set an important course here, Scholz emphasized. The aim is to reduce the number of reports that companies have to submit in accordance with EU requirements by at least a quarter.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who spoke for the first time at the opening of the trade fair, agreed with Scholz. "In order to survive in tough international competition, Europe must become simpler, faster and cheaper," said the CDU politician. This is the only way for the location to survive the increasingly tough global competition. "It is crucial that we ease the burden on companies and reduce bureaucracy." The pace must also be stepped up for wind energy.

However, the Commission President, who herself comes from Lower Saxony, was confident: "Europe has proven time and again that it can find the right answers together. Europe has every potential to remain an industrial powerhouse in the world in the coming decades."

Further relief planned for energy prices

With regard to energy prices, which skyrocketed after the start of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine two years ago, Scholz expressed his satisfaction with the fact that prices have fallen again. "Wholesale prices for gas and electricity are now back to pre-crisis levels or even lower." The federal government has also introduced billions in relief for energy-intensive companies. "We are currently discussing in the federal government how we can continue this relief."

Gunther Kegel, President of the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (ZVEI), recently criticized the fact that energy prices are still too high for energy-intensive companies despite the decline. He also warned against increasing the pace of climate protection. "It can't be the goal that we cross the finish line as best in class and then have to use all possible compensation mechanisms, such as tariffs, to compensate for competitive disadvantages," said Kegel. "It is much more important that we do this in step with other major world regions."/fjo/DP/jha