Partnerships

Trustworthy partner

Strategy and concepts

Sustainability as a key topic for our partnerships

For the Mercedes-Benz Group, the Paris Agreement represents more than just an obligation; our commitment to its targets stems from our fundamental convictions. Our political lobbying activities and partnerships are in line with this conviction and the climate-protection goals agreed upon in the Paris Agreement. Our lobbying strategy thus also clearly adheres to the corporate strategy of the Mercedes-Benz Group.

For example, the topic of the “Partnerships” workshop at the Sustainability Dialogue 2021 was: “How can society, government and industry cooperate most effectively so that sustainability goals can be jointly attained?”. Representatives from government, the business community and NGOs held discussions and presented solutions for CO2 reductions and the mutual counteraction of climate change.

The Mercedes-Benz Group’s position was particularly confirmed by the signing of the COP26 declaration on accelerating the transition to 100% zero emission cars and vans in Glasgow in November 2021. This declaration also reflects the focus of our lobbying strategy. Additional information can be found in the Climate Policy Report

Focus on stakeholders

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At the Mercedes-Benz Group we consider it important to precisely understand the interests and expectations of our stakeholders. This is the only way we can determine what our shared positions are, so that we can initiate corresponding projects and measures.

Our activities for representing our political interests are always aligned with our most important positions as a company. In order to determine these positions, we have established standardised processes that take both internal and external expectations into consideration. Furthermore, we always communicate with our stakeholders reliably and on the basis of facts.

A constructive international political dialogue in our worldwide markets is essential for the sustainability of our business operations. Through our broadly based international network, we are safeguarding this dialogue with our political stakeholders. When planning new projects or addressing location-specific topics, the Mercedes-Benz Group also communicates with the responsible parties at the local level — this is how we want to find practicable solutions and create conditions that benefit everyone concerned.

Dialogue with government and society

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Representing our company’s political interests means engaging in a continuous dialogue with decision-makers, including members of parliament, government and public officials, and representatives of political interest groups, trade organisations and business associations. The Mercedes-Benz Group holds discussions with such individuals at many levels, listens to what they have to say, communicates our interests and concerns to them, and declares our willingness to assume social responsibility. Our strategy for representing our political interests is aligned with our corporate strategy. The transformation of the Mercedes-Benz Group and the automotive industry as a whole plays an especially important role in our talks.

We also seek to establish a dialogue with representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social movements in order to find holistic solutions for collective challenges.

Responsible representation of our interests

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The Group has defined its own principles for political dialogue and the responsible representation of its interests. We maintain political restraint, balance and neutrality in our dealings with political parties, members of parliament and government officials.

We use various instruments to ensure that the political representation of our interests is carried out in accordance with applicable regulations and ethical standards. In our work as a member of sector associations and in our cooperation with other companies, we pay particular attention to antitrust regulations. We have also defined internally binding requirements that are laid down, among other things, in the Group’s Integrity Code.

In addition, our policy for “Lobbying and Political Donations/Donations to Political Parties” governs grants, donations to political parties and the use of other instruments for representing our interests in the political realm. The employees can find these policies in the policy database on the intranet. The Mercedes-Benz Group is also listed (currently under the name Daimler AG) in the Transparency Register of the European Union and complies with the register’s Code of Conduct. Furthermore, we welcome the decision of the German Bundestag to establish a lobbying register on the national level starting in 2022.

The policies mentioned above also define how we intend to address risks in connection with the political representation of our interests. We also address these risks through firmly established Group-wide compliance processes. Complaints and information regarding our Group activities related to the political representation of our interests can be addressed to the Business Practices Office (BPO) whistleblower system.

In accordance with the legal requirements and our Group’s internal policies, we regularly conduct mandatory training courses for employees of Mercedes-Benz Group companies. The Integrity and Legal Affairs unit contacts the corresponding target groups that must complete the training courses. These training courses can usually be completed online as self-study courses. Employees who are politically active in their role — as a Plant Director, for example — receive additional training for their tasks.

Central coordination office

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The External Affairs (EA) unit is our central coordinating body for political dialogue at the national and international levels. It is located in Stuttgart and falls under the responsibility of the Chairman of the Board of Management. The EA unit shapes the Group’s relations via a global network with offices in Berlin, Brussels, Beijing and Washington as well as corporate representations in our markets. Our aim is to provide content that has been coordinated throughout the Group for the political representation of our interests and to address political and social target groups in a coordinated manner.

The head of the EA unit is a permanent member of the Group Sustainability Board and as such is an active contributor to its work on many topics relevant to sustainability. In addition, EA cooperates closely with the members of the Board of Management and the specialist units on questions related to the representation of our interests. To this end, the unit organises the meetings of the Governmental Affairs Committee for various Board of Management divisions, among other things. At these meetings, which are held several times a year, the Head of External Affairs and other representatives from the unit hold discussions with Board of Management members and other top managers to coordinate the positions and processes that are of key importance for the company. We also receive individual stakeholder enquiries concerning various topics related to sustainability. These enquiries are addressed directly and in a decentralized manner by specific departments and business units. This approach brings our stakeholders closer to our business operations and makes it possible to directly incorporate specialised knowledge into the dialogue. Individual enquiries are also reported at the meetings of our sustainability bodies so that they can be taken into consideration in our strategic decisions. Our sustainability bodies also coordinate the dialogue concerning interdisciplinary issues with our stakeholder groups.

The External Affairs unit ensures that the positions taken in the political representation of our interests correspond with the goals and content of the Mercedes-Benz Group’s sustainable business strategy as well as with our policies and other public statements.

In accordance with our policy regarding lobbying and political donations/donations to political parties, employees at controlled Group companies of the Mercedes-Benz Group who represent our political interests must register with the EA unit if they are not organisationally under its direction. We recruit new personnel for the EA unit as part of the standardised human resources processes of the Mercedes-Benz Group.

Thematic focal points

The Mercedes-Benz Group’s specific aim in the discussions with political decision-makers is to find sustainable solutions for social challenges and thus achieve greater planning security for the company. Sustainability plays a crucial role in terms of representing our interests in connection with our partnerships and our lobbying activities. During the reporting year, the discussions focussed on the following topics in particular:

Achieving climate targets and improving air quality

For the Mercedes-Benz Group, the Paris Agreement on climate protection is more than a duty. We support the agreed-upon climate protection targets on the basis of our moral conviction. To this end, we are investing extensively in the development and production of alternative drive systems in line with our electric-only approach. We are also committed to the target of air quality in cities. Through our products we aim to make largely climate-neutral mobility possible — especially in urban areas — starting in 2030.

To achieve the mobility sector’s climate goals, we need a regulatory framework that is stable over the long term and is not tied to any specific technology. Furthermore, we welcome the efforts being made at the political level to create a needs-based charging infrastructure and to expand renewable energy sources. This is the only way to achieve climate-neutral mobility.

Making cities more liveable

Clean, safe, generally accessible and affordable mobility is a precondition for a high quality of life in cities. To make this possible, smart systems are needed in order to link all of the transport systems to one another and coordinate their use. Each transport system should preferably be used wherever it offers the most benefits. To ensure that CO2 neutral individual mobility continues to be firmly established in cities, the public charging infrastructure should be expanded in cities and along main traffic arteries.

The transformation of mobility in cities will be successful only through cooperation with political decision-makers. That’s why the Mercedes-Benz Group is participating in Germany’s Plattform Urbane Mobilität (Platform for Urban Mobility), among other organisations, and participates in the Agora Verkehrswende Council. On this platform, representatives of industry and cities discuss urgent aspects of the mobility transformation and cooperatively derive the corresponding measures.

Improving traffic safety

Vehicle and traffic safety have always been and continue to be an important focus of our vehicle development activities. The Mercedes-Benz Group supports the efforts undertaken by government authorities to achieve the conditions for further improvements in traffic safety by means of automated driving, for example.

Establishing standards for human rights due diligence

For the Mercedes-Benz Group, respect for human rights is a fundamental component of responsible corporate governance and part of our sustainable business strategy. Our commitment and our goal are to ensure that human rights are respected and upheld in all of our Group companies and by our suppliers.

In order to implement our sustainability requirements along the supply chain, we advocate the creation of uniformly accepted standards — ideally at the international level. A statutory regulation can help to create legal certainty and internationally accepted uniform standards. In order to promote fair competition, the regulation should also create equal competitive conditions for everyone in the future. In this way human rights can be further strengthened in global value chains. Moreover, the scope of due diligence obligations must be clearly defined with regard to human rights. Due diligence obligations should be limited to the actual scope of economic influence and juridical authority along the supply chain and the value chain in order to ensure that measures are adequate and can be implemented.

Sustainable financing

The Mercedes-Benz Group supports the goal of sustainable financing in order to promote investments in sustainable growth. An appropriately designed taxonomy of sustainable business operations can help to make markets more transparent and guide investments toward sustainable activities.

Location-specific issues

The Mercedes-Benz Group is in close contact with political and social stakeholders in the local areas of our plants. Our top priority here is to harmonise the interests of our plants and the concerns of the local stakeholders.

Free and fair trade

As a globally operating company, the Mercedes-Benz Group promotes free and fair trade. Free trade and investments are key factors for innovation, employment, growth and prosperity.

Contributing to the drafting of employment legislation

In order to comply with the requirements of digitalisation and the transformation of the automotive industry, the Mercedes-Benz Group advocates the modernisation of labour laws. Among other things, they should be adapted to the rising demand for flexible working time models. We consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Core Labour Standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to be particularly important for the shaping of labour laws.

Measures

Event and dialogue formats

In its dialogue with private individuals, political decision-makers, industry representatives and NGOs, the Mercedes-Benz Group has discussed current topics and worked to find joint solutions to social and environmental issues. The focus was on sustainability, electric mobility, digitalisation and urbanisation, as well as these issues’ impact on society.

By continuing to develop the representation of our political interests, the Mercedes-Benz Group aims to engage in a dialogue with stakeholder groups, which are playing a growing role in an increasingly critically minded civil society. This direct engagement with a broader, well-informed, critical and, above all, interested public is very important to us. At the same time, we ourselves can — and intend to — define topics and initiate discussions both within and outside the company.

The EA unit has developed various event and dialogue formats in order to enable open discussions with a wide spectrum of interest groups. We use these formats to specifically approach decision-makers and other societal stakeholders in order to discuss not only core topics in the automotive industry but also relevant issues that will shape our future. In doing so, we are open to other viewpoints so that we can learn from them. Moreover, we contribute our knowledge and commitment to these discussions. We also use external platforms to talk with government officials, politically and socially committed groups, opinion leaders and experts in order to work with them on the sustainable transformation of the automotive industry.

For example, we participate in the strategic dialogue of the automotive industry in Baden-Württemberg, as well as in the German government’s National Platform on the Future of Mobility and many other forums. In addition, Group representatives participated in many panel discussions, such as the digital workshop “Obstacles to Electric Mobility” organised by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries and “The European Green Deal: Challenges for Electric Mobility”, an event organised by the Parliamentary Group for Electric Mobility.

Even in the ongoing pandemic situation, we consider it very important to continuously share information between external stakeholders and Group representatives. For example, the EA offices in Berlin and Brussels have implemented virtual formats to engage in discussions with representatives of the Federal Association of Goods Transport, Logistics and Waste Disposal and of Shell Deutschland about how innovative technologies can be used to decouple transport systems from fossil fuel consumption. They have also entered into discussions of this topic with various NGOs, such as Environmental Action Germany, Greenpeace and the General German Automobile Club (ADAC).

The EA office in Washington is also in continuous contact with stakeholders. For example, it has joined other automakers as a participant in the Electric Vehicles Stakeholder Forum of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

Depending on the communication format, events are conducted either by specialists from the EA unit or by employees who act as representatives of the Mercedes-Benz Group’s political interests as part of their work abroad. In addition, managers from the respective locations generally take part in discussions of current topics with representatives of society and government.

Due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, the events were held either as safe hybrid formats or entirely in the digital sphere.

Donations to political parties and other political organisations

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The entire Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG has to approve all donations to political parties (regardless of the amount) as well as all donations of €50,000 or more (including taxes) to other organisations. Furthermore, the EA unit has to submit its opinion before any decision can be made. The Group did not make any financial or non-financial contributions to political parties during the reporting period. This decision was not based on current political or economic events.

Associations and initiatives

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In addition to the direct dialogue with political decision-makers and other interest groups that promote sustainable development, the company is active in various associations, committees and sustainability initiatives. Some of the most important initiatives here are the UN Global Compact, econsense – German Business Forum for Sustainable Development and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Within these initiatives we also hold discussions with representatives of civil society. We are also involved in industrial associations such as the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and corresponding associations in other countries.

Associations assume a national political responsibility because they express the business interests of a variety of companies or sectors and serve as a point of contact for governments. As part of our work within these associations, we are active in working groups that are relevant to our core business activities. Here we contribute our company-specific perspective and experiences and help to promote the political discussion on a fact-based and well-qualified foundation. We always take antitrust regulations into account and operate within the legal framework. Our work within associations focuses, among other things, on air quality in German cities and the promotion of sustainable mobility.

We also actively participate in the development of innovative solutions by means of our know-how and our technology. In addition, we maintain regular contact with representatives of civil society and other companies. Moreover, we participate in further associations, committees and sustainability initiatives as well as the dialogues that we have initiated ourselves. Here we contribute our expertise in areas such as the modernisation of legislation regarding batteries and the charging infrastructure.

The Paris Agreement on climate protection

The Mercedes-Benz Group has set its own goals for the reduction of CO2 emissions. These goals are based on the latest findings of climate research regarding the measures that are needed to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement on climate protection. We have defined measures with which we intend to attain these goals. We have also defined a concrete CO2 reduction pathway in accordance with the requirements of the . The SBTi has confirmed that this pathway conforms to the Paris Agreement on climate protection. Our involvement in this initiative has further underlined our commitment to achieving the climate goals.

Our direct lobbying activities are also aligned with the goals and targets of the Paris Agreement and are thus in accordance with our corporate strategy. For example, during the “Sustainability Dialogue” 2021, the “Partnerships” workshop addressed the question of how different stakeholders can work together in order to achieve sustainability targets. Specifically, representatives from society, government, the business community and NGOs held discussions and presented solutions for CO2 reductions and the mutual counteraction of climate change.

In addition, during the UN Convention’s Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2021, we signed the “COP26 declaration on accelerating the transition to 100 per cent zero emission cars and vans”. In this declaration, along with other companies, cities and governments, we are supporting completely emission-free transport in the future, with the aim of speeding up the pace of electrification. This declaration also reflects the focus of our lobbying strategy.

Local and regional dialogues

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As a responsible company and employer in many regions, the Mercedes-Benz Group has an interest in finding solutions for regional and supra-regional problems in partnership with other interest groups. We live up to our social and environmental responsibility, and we realise that our participation in partnerships and initiatives goes beyond our own business goals.

The company also holds discussions with its stakeholders at the location level. In connection with specific occasions and projects, the Group addresses questions, concerns, criticism and suggestions made by stakeholders and enters into an open-ended dialogue with them. We also stage dialogue and information events on current topics as we further develop the representation of our political interests.

For example, during the reporting period, we suggested land use measures for the Untertürkheim plant to the Stuttgart City Council and succeeded in having them developed further.

In addition, the top-level meeting of the state government of Baden-Württemberg’s strategic dialogue for the automotive industry took place in October 2021. The objective of the meeting was to facilitate an exchange between all of the institutions and companies participating in the strategic dialogue and to discuss current challenges relevant to the transformation of the automobile industry. At this meeting the Mercedes-Benz Group provided information about the current status of its electric mobility offensive and its progress on the road to CO2 neutral mobility, among other topics.

The results of these dialogues are incorporated into further decision-making and decision implementation processes at the company.

Effectiveness and results

The effectiveness of our management approach

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The EA unit reports to the Advisory Board for Integrity and Sustainability about its activities and incorporates the Advisory Board’s feedback into its planning. In addition, EA activities and analyses are regularly a part of the Board of Management’s reports to the Supervisory Board of Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

The effectiveness of our dialogue and our active participation in associations is especially evident in the discussions of draft legislation and political projects. On the one hand, we ensure that the company’s legitimate interests can be taken into account during the legislative process and, on the other, the company can thus address future regulations at an early stage and take strategic measures accordingly. This enables the company and government to develop sustainable concepts for the transformation of the automotive industry.

This management approach, which involves a constructive discussion with our stakeholders, is effective if the company’s overall result is positive and sustainable, and if our products are accepted as part of the solution for the current challenges.

Results

During the reporting year we worked together with external consultants to develop an evaluation concept for making the lobbying activities transparent and verifiable. The concept is based on a scientific foundation. As part of the groundwork, we initially conducted a benchmark analysis of responsible lobbying work. To this end, we systematically evaluated publications and guidelines formulated by international organisations, NGOs and others. On this basis, we were able to define the performance indicators, the stakeholder target groups and the evaluation methodology. In the next step, we reviewed the evaluation concept. In 2021 we conducted the first anonymous interviews with internal and external stakeholders — including representatives of NGOs, think tanks and associations as well as from politics and administration. Based on these interviews, we were able to validate the methodology of our evaluation concept before continuing the surveys.

Provider/Privacy

Mercedes-Benz AG Mercedesstraße 120
70372 Stuttgart
Germany
Phone: +49 7 11 17-0
E-Mail:
dialog@mercedes-benz.com

Represented by the Board of Management: Ola Källenius (Chairman), Jörg Burzer, Renata Jungo Brüngger, Sabine Kohleisen, Markus Schäfer, Britta Seeger, Hubertus Troska, Harald Wilhelm

Chairman of the Supervisory Board: Bernd Pischetsrieder

Court of Registry: Stuttgart; commercial register no. 762873
VAT ID: DE 32 12 81 763

Science Based Targets initiative

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTI) is a joint initiative of the CDP, the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It aims to encourage companies to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the level of decarbonisation that scientists are calling for in order to limit global warming to less than 1.5 °C/2 °C compared to preindustrial temperatures.

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