The changes to everyday life, commerce and work caused by digitisation are similar in scale to those resulting from the industrial revolution. They offer great economic opportunities in terms of new market opportunities, sales markets and jobs. They also offer a wide range of opportunities for individuals, with more products to choose from, new ways to communicate, and more flexible working arrangements.
However, the digital transition requires an “ordo-liberal” framework which ensures intact competition, takes greater account of the special features of digital markets, and clearly assigns responsibilities. The ninth amendment to the Act against Restraints on Competition (ARC), which was adopted by the Federal Cabinet on 28 September 2016, is an example of legislation that responds to the advance in digitisation.
The Federal Government wants to ensure coherent regulation and supervision in order to promote digitisation in Germany. The regulatory framework set out by the IT Security Act is to be developed and extended to ensure higher security levels for IT systems. The General Data Protection Regulation has put in place a uniform European legal framework for the processing of personal data. The Federal Government’s reform of procurement law has established simple and user-friendly procurement rules.
Europe’s ability to compete internationally much depends on the completion of the uniform digital single market. As a general rule, we therefore want to refrain from enacting national regulations unilaterally, thus making it easier for companies to implement their digital business models all over Europe.
“Strategic foresight process for digitisation”
Digitisation is resulting in some disruptive new technologies which are fundamentally transforming the German economy. It is still virtually impossible to predict many of the potential applications of new technologies. In order to identify long-term effects on German commerce at an early stage, the Economic Affairs Ministry has launched a two year “Strategic foresight process” (in German). It is intended to feed into the shaping of a regulatory framework for the digitalised economy.
Shaping the course of digitisation
Programmes designed to promote the roll-out of high-performance broadband cable, provide funding for other digitisation projects, and to support our Plattform Industrie 4.0 (in German) are key to shaping the course of digitisation. A new European digital regulatory policy will have to focus on two goals: first of all, we ought to create a level playing field for investment and innovation, which will generate inclusive growth. Secondly, we must protect people’s personal rights and their right to data sovereignty.
The Digital Summit is the central platform for cooperation between the worlds of politics, business, academia and society as we shape the digital transformation. The last Digital Summit was held in Dortmund on 28 and 29 October 2019.