German Business Is Tangled in Red Tape

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When Markus Wingens created the position of “energy manager” for the metal heat-treatment company he runs in southwestern Germany, his idea was to increase energy efficiency and attract customers interested in sustainability.

But the job has become as much a task of filling out paperwork and studying seemingly ever-changing laws as it is ensuring that the firm, Technotherm Heat Treatment Group, is meeting energy requirements.

Last year, four new laws and 14 amendments to existing ones governing energy use took effect, each bringing fresh demands for data to be reported and forms to be submitted — in many cases to prove the same standards that the company has already been certified as reaching since 2012, Mr. Wingens said.

“We have the Renewable Energy Act, we have the Energy Efficiency Act, we have the Energy Financing Act, and each comes with an administrative burden,” he said. “It’s madness.”

Freedom from red tape has been a rallying cry for farmers from Poland to Portugal at recent protests against European Union laws and policies. Indeed, the burden of bureaucracy is a general complaint of corporate executives across the globe.

“We have the Renewable Energy Act, we have the Energy Efficiency Act, we have the Energy Financing Act, and each comes with an administrative burden,” said Markus Wingens, who runs Technotherm.Credit…Roderick Aichinger for The New York Times

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