FRANKFURT - With over one million employees and a share of around 10 per cent of overall regional expenditure on R&D, mechanical engineering is an underpinning element of the German economy. As 2017 comes to an end, the sector remains one of the country’s largest industrial business drivers, despite the ongoing unpredictable economic and political environment, which has intensified since September’s general election in Germany failed to produce an overall majority. However, while chancellor Angela Merkel faces uncertainty in her bid to form a government, Regina Brückner, the new chairperson of the VDMA (the German Textile Machinery Association), has the cemented backing of her peers, as she bids to steer the organisation towards further growth in 2018. Growth, which is predicted to be driven by exports, despite unknown factors such as the consequences of the Brexit negations and lack of clarity on US economic policies. Tony Whitfield finds out what this could mean for Europe’s textile machinery manufacturers.