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German Election 360°: laissez-faire and fair-to-middling internet

This is the last of nine episodes we are publishing ahead of the german elections.

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German Election 360°: laissez-faire and fair-to-middling internet

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This is the last of nine episodes we are publishing ahead of the german elections.

We are in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. The interview is filmed in the company of the interviewee.

Martin Menz, CEO Relaxdays: “My name is Martin Menz, I am 32 years old, I’m an entrepreneur from Halle. The name of my company is relaxdays and we sell house, garden and leisure products, online and all over Europe.”

Julius Lukas, journalist at “Mitteldeutsche Zeitung”
Relaxdays is ten years old now, has been on the market for ten years. When you think back, was there a moment, where you said, it would have been good, if I would have gotten more support, or where you were confronted with bureaucracy? A moment where you said, man, it would be more simple with more support or help?”

Martin Menz, CEO Relaxdays: “As an entrepreneur I don’t look at the things that don’t work, but quickly try to find a solution. Most of the times this solution is not a political one. I think politics in the end has to take care of the general environment, the basics. Things like guaranteeing that we live in peace, that we are a respected country from a political point of view.

“These are the things that are very important to me, that have to be taken care of. Which is a given thing at the moment. This is the thing about the current government that means a lot to me and I want it to stay. That’s why, me personally, I am satisfied with the politics of Missus Merkel.”

Julius Lukas: “What political support do you as an entrepreneur need? What can politicians do better to make your company grow? You already have enormous growth rates, but to make sure it stays that way?”

Martin Menz: “Good question. Politics need to deal with the issue of the digitalization, to reinforce the internet infrastructure.

“I drove home from Frankfurt (Main) as a passenger recently and I tried to work on the internet. But you pass through gaps with no connection. I think this is something to work on, so that we got a good connection for the whole nation. In the end, this part of the infrastructure is as important as a motorway, electricity and water.”

*Germany is struggling with high speed internet coverage for the whole country, what experts see as a growing disadvantage for the economy. Martin Menz started ten years ago selling head massage tools on ebay. Today he has 80 employees and sells around 2,000 products.*

Julius Lukas: “Your products are produced in the whole world. How far away are the places that they are sold to? All the products come here to Halle, but where are they distributed to?”

Martin Menz: “We have clients in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, England, Poland, Denmark, Slovakia, everywhere. We have six, seven native speakers working here, that prepare the products for the European countries.

“It is fair to say that we are more a European company than a German one. I also probably would call myself a European before saying that I am from Germany.”

Julius Lukas: “Europe is important to you. Which role does Europe play when it comes to your decision as a voter?”

Martin Menz: “A decisive role. First of all, I am pro-european. And my company doesn’t have a choice. We are completely focused on European trade, on digital European trade.

“It is very important for the company that there are fewer borders, so that we can trade better, live together better and learn from one another.”

Julius Lukas: “What do you expect from the elections?”

Martin Menz: “I hope that the “Alternative für Deutschland” has a bad result because I think they are idiots. Apart from that it would be good if we would have a high voter turnout, so that everybody get’s his or her say.”

Julius Lukas: “Twelve years of Merkel, some see as a kind of standstill. What do you think?”

Martin Menz: “Perhaps politics doesn’t always need to be brutal innovation. Perhaps it should just give the framework. Perhaps that’s enough. That’s perhaps something to think about.”

According to the “State of the Internet Report” Germany is placed 25th out of the countries with the fastest internet. When it comes to households with fibre connection, Germany lies behind countries such as Latvia, Russia, the Netherlands or Italy. Report about fibre coverage in Europe