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 the form of new market opportunities, sales markets and jobs. They also offer a wide range of opportunities for individuals, with a greater diversity of products, new ways to communicate, or the possibility to be flexible about when and where to work.
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. For example, the ninth amendment to the Act against Restraints on Competition (ARC), which was adopted by the federal cabinet on 28 September 2016, responds to the advance in digitisation. The IT Security Act has significantly improved the security of IT systems. The General Data Protection Regulation is putting a uniform European legal framework in place for the processing of personal data. The Federal Government’s reform of procurement law has established simple and user-friendly procurement rules.
Comprehensive strategy for the digital transformation
The Federal Government’s Digital Agenda 2014 - 2017 summarises the key issues and fields for action relating to digitisation. The Digital Strategy 2025, which was presented by the Economic Affairs Ministry in March 2016, looks ahead to the action needed up to 2025.
In the context of the Digital Strategy 2025, the Economic Affairs Ministry presented the “Digital Platforms” Green Paper at the end of May 2016, setting out the way forward to a regulatory framework for the digital world. The digital platform economy opens up numerous new possibilities, but also places a lot of demands on companies, employees and consumers. It is therefore important to strike the right regulatory note. The Green Paper served as the basis for a discussion and consultation process involving the whole of society. Representatives of business, science, society and politics had the opportunity to submit comments. As a result of this consultation process, the Economic Affairs Ministry published the White Paper on Digital Platforms in March 2017.
The goals and measures contained in it reflect the perspectives of all the stakeholders in terms of 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 also sets out ideas for policies to be implemented at European level as digitalisation does not stop at national borders.
In order to flesh out the measures contained in the Digital Strategy 2025, the Economic Affairs Ministry presented the “Digitisation Action Programme” on 22 September 2016. It reaches beyond the issue of digital platforms to propose further key measures for a successful digitisation policy. The aim is to improve the conditions for the economy in order to promote innovation and investments in digitisation and to usher in a new age for entrepreneurship.
The Digital Summit (previously the National IT Summit) is the central platform for cooperation between the worlds of politics, business, academia and society as we shape the digital transformation. The most recent Summit meeting was held in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region from 12 to 13 June 2017.