The , which was adopted by the Federal Government in summer 2014, serves as the government’s road map for implementing digital policies in cooperation with the business community, the social partners, civil society and academia. Over the last three years, the Federal Government has undertaken key measures to meet the goals set out by the Digital Agenda. These measures include the adoption of funding programmes for the expansion of high-performance, nation-wide broadband networks, the launch of additional digitisation projects, the adoption of the IT Security Act and .
On 26 April 2017, the Federal Government adopted its 2014-2017 Report on the Digital Agenda. The report is outlining the progress achieved on digital policy in the last three years. It shows that, in many areas, Germany is well-prepared for the digital future. You can find detailed information about the Digital Agenda here.
Making a success of the digital transformation in Germany
At the 2016 CeBIT fair, former Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel presented the . This strategy sets out important measures and policy instruments that Germany will need to deploy in this legislative term and beyond in order to make a success of the digital transformation.
German administrations also need to keep pace with the digital transformation. For this purpose, the federal government announced to "provide online the 100 most important and frequently used administrative services throughout the country in a uniform manner". The study entitled , which was presented in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on 5 July 2017, identifies the most important interactions between businesses and administrations of around 5,500 administrative services – i.e. those administrative services that are frequently used by businesses, result in high compliance costs and have huge digitalisation potential. The study is available for download .
Guidelines for a digital policy that benefits all
Digitisation is transforming the way we live, communicate, work, do business, and consume. This transformation is not limited to technology and our economy – it is affecting the whole of society. What can we do to prevent digital platforms dominating the market? Will digitisation mean that there will be more or fewer jobs in the future? Do we need an external body to monitor algorithms and self-learning systems? These three questions are examples highlighting the issues we need to deal with in the digital age – issues that concern us all and that we need work on together if we want digitisation to be shaped fairly for the benefit of consumers, businesses and employees.
This is why, in June 2017, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection adopted a number of political guidelines setting out how the digital transformation can be shaped for the benefit of businesses, employees and consumers, and drawing up several key fields of action and requirements that digital policy needs to take into account. More information about this can be found here.
The White Paper on Digital Platforms lays down principles for a digitalisation ‘Made in Europe’
Digital platforms have emerged as driving forces for economic development in both Germany and Europe. In order to ensure that there is fair competition between these platforms and established market players, we are seeking to develop a digital ordo-liberal policy. There are two aspects that are of key importance here: First of all, we ought to make sure to generate inclusive growth. This can be achieved by creating a level playing field for investment and innovation. Secondly, we must protect people's personal rights and data sovereignty. The White Paper on Digital Platforms, which sets out specific ideas for digital ordo-liberal policies, is an important step towards achieving these goals. The White Paper also sets out ideas for policies to be implemented at European level as digitalisation does not stop at national borders. Go to to find out more.
Digital Summit: the central platform for developing digital policies
The Digital Summit (formerly called National IT Summit) is the central platform for stakeholders involved in the digital transformation. The most recent Summit meeting was held in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region from 12 to 13 June 2017. The meeting focused on digital health, on the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region as a model region for smart networking and on the digital transformation of businesses and the administration.
Boosting business through smart networking
Smart networking means the systematic and extensive digital networking of existing infrastructure, information and persons in a number of important sectors. The programme helps drive forward the processes of digitalisation (e.g. through smart meters, e-health services, e-learning, e-government, smart homes, smart cities, e-participation, and age-appropriate support systems for living a self-determined life), roll these out nation-wide, and harness the potential offered by digitalisation in a number of key sectors including education, energy, healthcare, transport and public administration. In March 2015, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy launched the Smart Networks Initiative – a central coordination and advice centre for smart networking. .
High-speed networks are key
Good networks and internet connections are key for driving forward digitalisation. As digitalisation picks up speed, we need to to ensure that our data networks deliver the capacity, availability and latency required. These networks serve as the basis for a digitised society and smart networking. A lot has been achieved over the last few years: more than 70 per cent of German households have access to 50 mbps connections and LTE has been swiftly expanded. There has been a great response to the Federal Government’s broadband funding programme. In order to account for the more demanding requirements that need to be met in the context of (Internet of Things, Big Data) and (for example e-health, e-government, smart cities), we need to further update our broadband connections: we need gigabit networks that deliver high speed downloads and uploads, we need reliable real-time transmission of data and high-quality internet services. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is stepping up its efforts to ensure that such gigabit networks will be established in Germany by 2025. It has proposed a number of specific measures under its (such as establishing a fund for future investment in rural areas and a legal framework that is conducive to investment and innovation).
Driving forward digital inclusion and skills development
Digitisation is particularly affecting the areas of knowledge, education and training: our job roles will be fundamentally transformed. This means that a special focus needs to be placed on digital inclusion and education. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding the ‘D21 Digital Index’, which is the most relevant study for assessing to what extent Germany has been digitised so far.
The focus is no longer exclusively on helping people gain access to the internet, but on securing an adequate supply of skilled workers and on digital integration. At the 2016 National IT Summit, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy presented a paper on digital education outlining how digital learning and skills development are to be enshrined across the entire education chain.