D.Germany is falling further and further behind in the digital race. The Berlin European Center for Digital Competitiveness (ECDC) recently placed Germany in the penultimate place of the seven most important industrial nations in the world. In Europe, and not only in the EU, according to the ECDC, Germany is also just ahead of the bottom: only Albania comes off worse.

The Union MP Dorothee “Doro” Bear (CSU) has been the Federal Government’s commissioner for digitization since the beginning of this legislature. The office of Minister of State was newly created in 2018, before there was apparently no need in Berlin. Before that, however, Bär had been State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure for four years. In eight years of operation, it has evidently not been able to slow down Germany’s falling back. Nevertheless, it still belongs to the “Future team“By Union Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet.

All of this must be said in advance so that we can better appreciate Armin Laschet’s latest remarks on digitization. “When you say we want a decade of modernization, the usually rather stupid answer comes: ‘But it was your turn for the last 16 years,'” Laschet exclaimed at the start of a speech in Berlin’s Adenauerhaus.

The party headquarters had organized the exchange, even Chancellor Angela Merkel had come. Laschet, who had been to the Walldorf-based software company SAP at noon, had promised to “finally pick up the pace” with the digitization of the backward administration. Citizens no longer accepted the fact that they had to go to an authority twice to renew their identity cards.

When Merkel became Chancellor, “Netflix still sent DVDs by post”

But now he repeated that the accusation of 16 years of inactivity to the government was “a stupid answer, because everything has already happened in the 16 years. Because the world in 2005 was different from the world in 2021. ”By“ that ”, the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia probably meant the creation of a basis and political framework for digitization, but his meandering remarks did not mean that become quite clear.

In return, he recalled that in 2005, when Merkel became Chancellor, “Netflix was still sending DVDs by post. That’s not a joke! ”Today young people could no longer imagine something like this. Ergo, so Laschet’s conclusion, nobody can claim that nothing will have happened in 16 years. “Something happens all the time, it never stops. And it will also be after the next chancellorship, ie in 16 years…. ”At this point the candidate was interrupted by laughter – certainly benevolent at this venue. He didn’t finish his sentence.

Now it should not belong in the cutlery box of an experienced election campaigner to call others “stupid”, especially when it comes to potential voters or even party loyalty. It is by no means absurd to hold the Union against the fact that it contributed to the obvious grievances in digitization itself. And not everyone in the Union is really convinced of Doro Bär as digital minister. The mockery for the graduate political scientist, who gave an interview on ZDF shortly before taking office, is unforgettable: When asked how and when rural areas would finally get a proper network coverage, digitization is not just broadband expansion. According to Bär, the real issue is mobility – autonomous driving and air taxis, for example.

If there has been progress since 2018, it is definitely not enough

That was in March 2018, the coalition of CDU and SPD had just been negotiated. The “digital offensive” was the catchphrase of the hour, and the budding government announced that it would step up its speed. In the evening at the Adenauerhaus, you felt like you were being transported back to a time machine. But if there has been progress since 2018, it is definitely not enough. Even the Regulatory Control Council (NKR), based in the Chancellery, has just given devastating testimony to the coalition’s efforts to modernize. “Germany is, thinks and acts too complicated,” it said in a report published two months ago.

The fact that Laschet still wants to make Dorothee Bär the front woman of digitization is therefore surprising. In Berlin, the Saarland CDU MP Nadine Schön (CDU) was traded for the digital ministry planned by the Union. The parliamentary group vice-president, together with the MP Thomas Heilmann, initiated the “Neustaat” initiative as early as 2019; But Laschet allegedly did not want to provoke CSU boss Markus Söder any further by shooting the Bavarian MP.

Chancellor bluntly admitted negligence in digitization during her term of office

In her short speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel showed that the topic can also be approached more humbly: The Chancellor bluntly admitted negligence in digitization during her term of office. It has shown “that we are not yet at the level we could be”. The corona pandemic in particular revealed these failures – for example in online school lessons at home or in the home office. The pandemic also showed “how willing we are to learn when it matters”.

However, like Laschet, she also tried, above all, to blame the SPD for the buck. The Social Democrats, and in particular Olaf Scholz, had slowed down again and again, for example on the issue of employee participation. In any case, this evening was mainly about strengthening Laschet’s back. Angela Merkel dutifully praised Laschet’s abilities, as she had the day before during a visit to the flood area: he was “open, courageous and curious”, could listen and could take people with him. Therefore, concluded the outgoing head of government, he would also be the right Federal Chancellor to promote digitization. Because this is much more than a technical process: Success can only be achieved with the right attitude.

In addition, Laschet ruled the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia “with great success, with reliability, with moderation and moderation”. Anyone who can rule such a large federal state “can also rule our country successfully as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

Secure reception should be standard across the country by 2025

Because listening and taking with you might not be enough to advance digitization, the Union finally presented its 25-point program. In order to make the state, economy and society more digital, secure reception should be standard throughout the country by 2025. “This also applies to buses, trains and public transport – free and fast WiFi for all passengers,” says the paper. A nationwide education cloud and digital platform for digital learning are also planned, and a framework is to be created to make the anonymization of data legally secure.

The question is, why is all this only happening now. Therefore, the Berlin Center for Digital Competitiveness (ECDC) should be quoted again. “There is a lot of talk about digitization in Germany, but relatively little happens,” said Philip Meissner, lead author of the study mentioned at the beginning. And one last note: In the first TV three-way battle between the candidates for chancellor, the opponents and moderators simply ignored the topic of digitization.