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Angela Merkel at CeBIT

Ten points for the digital future

The digitalisation of industry, society and administration is a key concern of the German government. At the opening ceremony of CeBIT, the exhibition and conference for IT and digital business, Chancellor Angela Merkel laid out the ten priority action areas of the digital agenda. Significant progress can be seen in the actions of the government itself as compared to last year, reported Angela Merkel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a statement to the press at the opening ceremony of CeBIT. Angela Merkel at CeBIT - digital technology is revolutionising industry Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

In her speech at CeBIT, the exhibition and conference for IT and digital business, Chancellor Angela Merkel looked at the priorities of the digital agenda. Germany sees itself as an innovative partner, which can translate good ideas into marketable products, in both the digital sphere and in traditional industry. The German government’s digital agenda puts in place the essential framework.

The ten priority action areas

  1. Expanding the broadband network: The German government aims to forge ahead with the expansion of broadband coverage. "We aim to have a network in place by 2018 that will assure a minimum transmission rate of 50 Mbit/s throughout Germany," said Angela Merkel. "We are also investing in wireless mobile broadband in rural areas".
    As of June at the latest, frequencies could be available for auction. The proceeds are to be used to create incentives for investment in rural regions in particular, where it is less attractive to expand broadband coverage. "But we realise that if we are to generate value added in rural areas, we must put in place the conditions needed," said Angela Merkel.

  2. More public Wi-Fi: Germany also plans to make up ground in the provision of Wi-Fi in public places, said the Chancellor. With the specification of liability regulations, the German government has taken an important step towards ensuring greater Wi-Fi availability in Germany.
    Recently the Cabinet launched a telemedia bill to precisely this end. This will make it much easier to offer free Wi-Fi access in public places.

  3. Providing financial support for business start-ups: Angela Merkel pointed out that it is absolutely crucial for young and new business start-ups to have access to risk capital. For this reason the government has decided to exempt subsidies to "business angels" from tax retrospectively as of 2013.
    Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel is to explore opportunities to make the stock exchange more attractive to young businesses as a source of capital. There are also plans to promote young entrepreneurs with funds from the European Recovery Programme (ERP) Special Fund, the European Investment Fund and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau. The government also aims to foster a culture of business start-ups from the initial phase at universities to the end of the participation of venture capital funds.

  4. Achieving the right balance in data privacy: Cloud computing and big data offer huge opportunities for innovation, but also demand new data privacy concepts. "We must find the right balance here," said Angela Merkel and pointed to the negotiations being conducted by the Federal Interior Minister on the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will apply throughout Europe once it is adopted.
    In terms of big data management it is important for Europe – not only for Germany – to achieve a sound regulation regarding dynamism and growth. "If we do this well, we could reconcile the security requirements with innovative big data management, which will put us right up among world leaders.

  5. European digital single market: Angela Merkel called for the creation of a uniform European digital single market. "We need the right framework for improving the investment conditions throughout Europe for digital services, irrespective of who is offering these services," declared Angela Merkel. This must happen quickly.

  6. Integration of telecommunications: The digital single market must also include gradual integration in the field of telecommunications. Here it is a question of swiftly finalising regulations on net neutrality and roaming.

  7. Safe and secure IT structures: Confidence and reliability are indispensable in the digital media sector. To ensure that critical structures including energy supplies and the health system really do operate reliably, the German government has adopted an IT security act.

  8. Online public administration: Angela Merkel also said, "We need simple and secure access to the administrative services provided by federal state and local government. "The more uniform our approach, the better people will understand what we are doing," said Angela Merkel.

  9. Research and innovation: Angela Merkel pointed to the "huge importance" of research and innovation. "We have the major opportunity to forge ahead with solutions in the various fields, including IT security. The focuses here are new solutions for ensuring secure hardware, confidence-inspiring ICT systems and IT security for industry. The new framework research programme on IT security comes in here.


  10. Networked mobility: One of the opportunities opened up by digitalisation is networked mobility. The best example is the automobile industry with automated driving on motorways. Angela Merkel pointed to the digital test area on the A9 motorway, where automated driving is to be tested. By September the German government is to present the key issues involved in order to strengthen automated driving in Germany.

Mar 16, 2015