13.04.2021  |   Annual Report

Act as a responsible owner of Deutsche Bahn – transport ministry must greatly enhance shareholding management

The federal government does not adequately perform its ownership responsibility of the German railways, Deutsche Bahn. This has resulted in considerable drawbacks. We urge the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure to enhance shareholding management.

In its ownership function, the federal government needs to place focus on federal interests and take an active role in the strategic development of Deutsche Bahn. Governmental responsibilities also cover business operations. The government needs to define the business function and purpose underlying the business operations managed by the Management Board. The transport ministry has the role to manage governmental shareholdings in Deutsche Bahn. For this purpose, the transport ministry has its own federal representatives to provide support as members on the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bahn.

Up to now, no strategy has been put into place to govern federal shareholdings in Deutsche Bahn. So far, the transport ministry has neither analysed the federal budget risks resulting from business operations of Deutsche Bahn nor explored options on how to mitigate them. The transport ministry also failed to clearly define the federal ownership functions of Deutsche Bahn and to assess the staffing needed for this purpose. These shortcomings may lead to various federal risks some of which have already materialised. As things are today, the transport ministry does neither tackle the current railway policy challenges nor meet its responsibility for the common good.

The transport ministry urgently needs to address strategic matters of Deutsche Bahn and identify federal budget risks. In addition, the transport ministry needs to analyse the shareholding management tasks and assess staffing needed for this purpose.