Ansicht Reichstag in Berlin

Five digital policy theses for 2023

published on 02.02.2023

Which digital policy issues will become particularly relevant in 2023 in view of the debate on digital sovereignty shaped by foreign and economic policy?

Five theses on the most important digital policy challenges at German and European level:

1. 2023 as the year of implementation

The three partners in the coalition government have already agreed on a clear commitment to more progress in their coalition agreement of December 2021. Progress in the digital transformation of the state, society and administration in particular is now being pursued.

The digital strategy presented in the summer of 2022 outlined which challenges are to be addressed and in which policy fields. Leverage projects were identified and priorities set in the digital strategy. This includes, among other aspects, the widespread availability of secure and user-friendly digital identities, which are fundamentally needed in every sector for progress in the digital transformation. In addition, a cross-departmental data strategy is expected this year and the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) is to present a digitalisation strategy for the healthcare sector. Pressure is growing at the European level to complete important digital policy projects such as the European Health Data Space, the Data Act and the AI Act, as the elections for the European Parliament are coming up in 2024.

These strategies and projects, however, are just the beginning. The projects now need to be tackled with the courage to prioritise and be pragmatic in implementation. The responsible stakeholders have the opportunity in 2023 to show that they also dare to make progress in implementation.

2. The OZG 2.0 will raise administrative digitalisation to a new level

The amendment of the Online Access Act (OZG) and the register modernisation means that 2023 offers the opportunity to lay further foundations for comprehensive, interlinked and coordinated digitalisation in administration. In particular, the OZG 2.0 has the potential to raise cooperation between the federal government, the states and the municipalities to a new level. The digitalisation of the administration, which has so far faltered in many places, stands to gain new momentum if the federal government succeeds in offering certain basic services for administrative services on a larger scale. Progress in the digitalisation of administration and business is also attainable in the area of digital identities with the introduction of the Smart eID announced for 2023 and the planned conclusion of the trialogue for the eIDAS 2.0 Regulation.

3. Data protection and data use not contradictory, in fact complementary

Personal data is comprehensively protected in Germany and at EU level for good reason. Existing data that require no special protection, however, are used far too little.

2023 is potentially the year in which data treasures are also extracted and made usable in Germany with an appropriate data strategy, the planned data institute, new data use laws and the realisation of defined data spaces and data ecosystems. Data spaces and ecosystems should be thought of in European terms from the outset. The Data Governance Act, which is also binding in Germany from September 2023, is also eagerly awaited and is intended to give a boost to data usage by companies offering data brokerage services.

4. A fundamental rethink of the security situation in the digital world required

The more comprehensively all areas of our lives are digitalised, the more important security, reliability and trustworthiness of digital processes and applications become for a functioning life together.

The ever increasing networking of applications and processes makes general and individual security more and more dependent on securing every device and every process against cyber attacks. Consistent and comprehensive investments in and regulations for more IT security have the capacity to raise the resilience of our society. This includes the implementation of the European NIS 2.0 Directive in Germany in 2023, passed last year.

5. Shaping ourselves as European and self-assured. Ensuring our future is not shaped by others

The past years and months have demonstrated to us how fragile democracy, prosperity and peace become as a result of the pandemic and its consequences, a war on our continent and the resulting energy crisis. Europe, as the world's largest single market, must stand together and find its own way to actively shape the transformation processes on the basis of its own values.

2023 has the potential to be the year in which Germany and its European partners take further decisive steps in major digital issues in order to reduce existing dependencies and become increasingly self-assured.