Will the new coalition agreement in Germany open up concrete areas for digital investment?

On November 26, 2021, the coalition agreement was presented. In terms of future digitalization in Germany, the planned investment areas and regulations of the so-called "traffic light coalition" can be summarized as follows:

The agreement proposes a central additional budget to fund digitization. Plus, there is an option of so-called “super write-offs” for digitization projects, and innovations to boost competitiveness are to be promoted.

Furthermore, the coalition agreement states that planning and approval processes are to be accelerated in the first year of the new government. The legislative process is to include a so-called “digital check” to review any possible digital implementations from the beginning. To advance digitization in Germany, permanent, agile interdepartmental and interagency project teams and innovation units with concrete responsibilities are to be established, which will contrast with the very rigid and slow German bureaucracy. In addition, a public administration cloud is to be established based on a multi-cloud strategy.

Nevertheless, there will be no digital ministry. Instead, digitization will be within the remit of the Ministry of Transport and Digital Affairs.

In the area of cyber security, the cyber security strategy and IT security legislation are to be further developed. In this context, the Federal Office for Information Security, as the central agency for IT security, is to be expanded and become more independent.

With respect to data and data protection, a “data for all” approach should be implemented to guarantee better access, especially for SMEs and start-ups. Other legislative initiatives (e.g., a data law for standardized access to self-generated data and legal entitlement to open data) and increased European cooperation on the GDPR are also on the agenda.

Another major area is sustainability, where digitalization is seen as a key driver. For example, digital twins are to be promoted in order to reduce consumption of resources. Moreover, data centers are to become climate-neutral by 2027, e.g., by using waste heat. Additionally, public data centers are to introduce an environmental management system according to the Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) by 2025.

When it comes to the digital economy, ambitious regulations are to be introduced under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and uniform European interoperability requirements and regulations on merger control are to be established. In addition, the paper does not mention to what extent the coalition government will stand by European projects such as the GAIA-X European cloud.

This is only a short summary of recent advances; PAC just published an in-depth Expert View. Nevertheless, the coalition agreement does not present an overall digital strategy, and instead only offers a vague guideline. Under the slogan of “modernization”, action must be taken as quickly as possible because previous actions have had little to no success in recent years while digitization has often only existed on paper.