EU Quickly Expanding Digital Economy

Germany leads Europe in more ways than one.

Where Germany leads, Europe follows. That is certainly going to be the case in information technology.

That’s the message from President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy. “If we are serious about a single market, it has to go digital,” he stated at an October 25 press conference following meetings of EU leaders at their Brussels headquarters.

Speaking of the 27-member bloc, he continued, “At the moment it is still fragmented, our infrastructure soon outdated, business are struggling to recruit their IT specialists they need. We know what to do to turn the situation around ….” Among the solutions he proposed: “to truly connect our continent by bringing down digital boulders when they are very visible, like roaming charges when people are online shopping. … And by encouraging investment in things like high speed broadband, 4G or Cloud computing.”

Who is going to show Europe how to meet these goals? Germany.

The Trumpet drew attention to the reported €431 million plowed into German start-up firms for 2011. We reported in 2012 of U.S. digital leaders establishing themselves in Berlin, the tech capital of Europe—such as Google’s plan to spend $6.3 million, and Kennet $15 million. We showed that German IT growth projection was set to balloon from €3.5 billion to €13 billion over the next three years.

We highlighted the EU innovation survey that revealed 79 percent of companies with innovation were based in Germany. We informed our readership of the country’s rise to the summit as largest exporter of military armaments in Europe, and third in the world behind the United States and Russia.

This year, Trumpet readers have been kept abreast of Germany’s second-largest, and most innovative industry sector: machinery and equipment. Dubbing itself a high-tech nation, Germany has established plans to expand software, electronics, robotics and materials. We warned of the historic implications of €300 million being invested in Biomedicine in Berlin alone. And of the 41 percent earnings increase for Volkswagen, developer of “the people’s car” for Adolf Hitler. We also recently underscored the danger of Germany hosting and leading the world’s largest cybercombat mission.

Seven years ago, Germany’s unemployment rate was near 12 percent. Since that time, despite the European financial crisis, it has been steadily declining, and is now at near 5 percent. The Continent is undergoing a labor migration of historic proportions as millions pack their bags and head for prosperous Deutschland, Europe’s job engine. With low population growth, Germany has a pressing need for qualified candidates to fill its burgeoning job market.

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, speaking at that October 25 press conference, reinforced Van Rompuy’s comments by saying, “What I’d like to tell you is that our discussion has shown that we all understand and agree on the urgency of action.”

“Europe has been a global leader in this sector, but let’s be frank, Europe has lost ground to key competitors. We are simply not using the full opportunities offered by digital economy. What we need first and foremost is investment in itt. There is a clear link between the amount we invest in itt, and the competitiveness of our economies. We also agree that our digital market in Europe is too fragmented, and this needs to be addressed. The telecoms reform package which the commission had tabled in September will help us to address these important gaps.”

These exhortations from the EU Council and Commission reinforce the Union’s position as set forth in its digital agenda.

“Today I am presenting a to-do list for 2013 and 2014,” said the EC’s vice president, Neelie Kroes. This woman, judged Europe’s “most improved commissioner and best communicator,” went on to say, “It is for some a wake-up call. For others this is just a confirmation, and for others this is just a dream. Broadband and jobs are the topics. But the message is that we need to take risks, and please just skip the word ‘risk avoiding.’ We should push ourselves.”

Only two years ago, the EC vice president invited German statesman Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg, former federal minister economics-technology and defense, to be her adviser for Internet users, bloggers and cyberactivists.

An EU press release of Dec. 12, 2011, recounted, “This appointment forms a key element of a new ‘No Disconnect Strategy’ to uphold the EU’s commitment to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected both online and off-line, and that Internet and other information and communication technology (ict) can remain a driver of political freedom, democratic development and economic growth.”

Our February 2010 Trumpet print edition featured Guttenberg’s image on its cover and headlined, “Why You Should Watch Him.” Editor in chief Gerald Flurry answered the question, who is Baron Guttenberg? Events that followed, particularly the media coverage, painted a picture of this rising star of German and European politics being cast into the shadows and governmental isolation. However, he in fact has refined, retooled, reorganized and reenergized himself into an invited adviser of the EU.

Continue to watch moves of the EU’s digital economy, its digital agenda, and Guttenberg. Europe is destined to rise from its fiscal malaise into a biblically prophesied, German-led 10-nation combine of church and state in the spirit of Charlemagne and the tradition of the medieval Holy Roman Empire.