On the 5th of March, the Federal Ministry of Finance hosted a debate with Guenther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, and Timotheus Hoettges, CEO of the Deutsche Telekom AG, concerning the digitisation. According to Oettinger, the potential growth in Germany is slow because of the demographic development. In his Keynote-Speech he emphasised how important the “Digital Single Market” is for Germany in order to compete with China and the U.S.A.
He said that in Europe, a start-up has to get 28 different licenses. Therefore, to support start-ups, laws governing data protection should be “Europeanised”. This means, the 28 “fragmented” data protection laws are ought to be replaced by one general EU legal framework. This legal fragmentation is a disadvantage for start-ups in addition to the 24 different languages within the EU.
During a panel discussion afterwards with Hoettges, the requirements for a transition into a digital society were pointed out. Investing in infrastructure and education are the key elements for Germany.
Hoettges complained that the telecom sector is being held responsible for the most part of investments in broadband, even though the telecom market in Europe is shrinking. WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media companies are providing communication services as well. Therefore he asked: “Shouldn’t companies such as WhatsApp also invest in infrastructure?”