At the symposium entitled ‘Modernising Germany – Innovation Agenda #de20205’; Source: BMWi/Maurice Weiss

© BMWi/Maurice Weiss

On 17 January, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel invited a number of international experts to Berlin for a symposium entitled "Modernising Germany – Innovation Agenda #de2025". Ten pioneering experts from the fields of science, business and politics answered his call and discussed with the Minister how Germany can keep moving forward over the next ten years and beyond.

Federal Minister Gabriel said: "The fact that the German economy is currently in good shape does not mean that we can be complacent. We need to think about how we can modernise our country and we need to do it now. If we want our economy to continue to be successful, if we want to continue to provide well-paid jobs, we need to clear the backlog of investment that has built up. But even this won’t be enough. Most of all, we need to focus on the kind of investment that will be needed in the future. I am pleased that so many bright minds, so many high-ranking experts have accepted my invitation to be part of the panel, and to discuss what are the most important measures that Germany needs to undertake in the future."

These include making use of the budget surplus, not only to repay outstanding debt, but also to actively invest in our country.

Federal Minister Gabriel said: "The conservative response to this would be: save money, repay debt, not take any risks. However, this will not help us boost growth and jobs in a way that will last. Quite the contrary: in these times that are characterised by low interest rates and a public budget surpluses, we must ensure that the value of our public assets is not reduced; otherwise we will have to foot the bill for this in the future: we will be less competitive and there will be less growth.

So if we want to modernise our country, if we want to promote innovation, we need to give priority to investment in education, research and digital infrastructure."

After Minister Gabriel had opened the symposium with his keynote speech, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Google Kent Walker took the floor to deliver his speech on innovation

Following this part of the symposium, the participants launched into the discussion across two panel sessions. The first panel session entitled “Taking control of the future – How can we get the investment we need in both Germany and the EU?” looked at how Germany can best drive forward the modernisation of its infrastructure, which areas it should focus on, and how it can set the right incentives for investors to make the necessary investments. The second panel was entitled “Providing equal opportunities – education, digital emancipation and work 4.0” and highlighted the opportunities and challenges brought about by the digital transformation.