On 31 January, the very first European Stakeholders' Forum on 'Digitising European Industry' was held in Essen. The event was coorganised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the European Commission.
Speaking before the conference, State Secretary Machnig said: "If Europe wants to successfully digitise its economy and implement Industrie 4.0, it urgently needs a digital single market that comes with the right framework. This in turn requires close cooperation between industry, the trade unions, science, the EU Member States and the European Commission. In hosting this first Stakeholders' Forum, we want to use our pioneering role where Industrie 4.0 is concerned to highlight the necessity for international cooperation, and we are expecting to gain important input and momentum for our policies and for the economy."
The conference was inspired by the European Commission's Communication on Digitising European Industry of April 2016. It was attended by some 500 participants from all across Europe. There were high-ranking panels and workshops where key issues and challenges associated with industrial digitisation were discussed. These included standardisation, IT security, centres of excellence, digital innovation hubs, digital platforms and the legal framework. The Industrie 4.0 platform was closely involved in this work and brought the initial results of its own work to the table. The event has helped encourage even greater networking and dialogue between the various national initiatives on Industrie 4.0, develop recommendations for action, and strengthen international cooperation on digitisation. These are all objectives that Germany also wants to pursue under its G20 Presidency.