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Eisenhüttenstadt: Anpassungsprobleme einer Stahlregion nach der Wiedervereinigung Deutschlands

Eisenhüttenstadt: problem of adapation within a steel region after reunification
[journal article]

Reuber, Paul; Köster, Peter

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Abstract The demand for "maintenance of industrial cores" established in connection with German reunification creates considerable difficulties especially in monostructure regions. That is why the privatisation of the ironworks "Eisenhüttenkombinat Ost" (German abbr. EKO) in Brandenburg turned out to be one of the most difficult cases of privatisation after reunification. It took more than four years until finally at the beginning of 1995, the Belgium steel concern Cokkerill-Sambre took over the former nationally owned model combine from the trust agency "Treuhand" (at first 60% of the shares, the remaining 40% not later than 1999). The privatisation process and the future development of the plant location were especially complicated by three aspects in the transition of the steel region from the planned economy to the market economy: At first, the formely favourable geographic situation towards the former trading partners of the Council of Mutual Economic Aid became a doubly peripheral location, namely both with respect to the new Federal Republic and to the common market of the European Union. Although the region has a monostructural orientation towards iron and steel production, it lags technologically far behind the West-German level. There is especially a lack of a hot-rolling mill which is needed in order to become an integrated, competitive location. The construction of a hot-rolling mill had to be twice stopped by the GDR for financial reasons. Overemployment and low productivity forced mass redundancies to be carried out after reunification and their consequences have not yet been overcome in the region. That is why privatisation and the beginning of renovation by the trust agency "Treuhand" have been difficult. These measures considerably changed the structure of the whole economic region and concentrated on the following four sectors: the regional and organisatory decentralisation of the combine structure, the reduction of labour force, the beginning of renovation measures in the EKO plant as well as the search for purchasers. Due to the great number and variety of interests of the different parties both on the local and the international level, an investor was only found in 1994. The Belgium concern Cockerill-Sambre developed a concept which in contrast to the other offers preserves relatively many working places (2300 from 12 346 in the past). Above all, the Belgium concern will close the "technological gap" by means of the construction of a hot-rolling mill and thus make the steel location of Eisenhüttenstadt internationally competitive. For this purpose, the steel plant "EKOStahl" will be given additional grants of more than one thousand million marks and will be the second most expensive privatisation project of the reunification. It is true that the direction has been decisively set, but nevertheless the plant and the region will continue to face considerable problems which, in the medium term, will be decisive in the economic development of the region; this is due to the fact that the grants are bound to a limitation in production up to the year 2000. Although the technological gap has been closed by means of the new rolling mill, innovations in steel production might quickly eliminate the advance obtained. Also owing to the steel industry's general susceptibility to crises it is necessary for the region of Eisenhüttenstadt to diversify into the settlement of other industrial and commercial enterprises. For this purpose however, the region especially needs the extension of its insufficient communications infrastructure. This is true both for the inland waterways (river of Oder, Oder-Spree-canal) as well as for the railway tracks and the fast nationwide road communications.
Keywords Federal Republic of Germany; Brandenburg; New Federal States; town; urban development; regional development; industry; location; privatization; structural problem; market economy; regional economy; German Democratic Republic (GDR); structural change; reunification; trust busting; capacity to work
Classification Area Development Planning, Regional Research; National Economy; Sociology of Settlements and Housing, Urban Sociology; Macrosociology, Analysis of Whole Societies
Free Keywords Eisenhüttenstadt
Document language German
Publication Year 1995
Page/Pages p. 1-8
Journal Europa Regional, 3.1995 (1995) 3
ISSN 0943-7142
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications