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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

German fingerprints on Juncker's Digital Agenda?

The 'digital agenda' was a key plank of Jean-Claude Juncker's 'campaign' to become European Commission President and will be one of the top priorities for the next five years. Indeed, his new look Commission has its own dedicated 'digital single market' cluster, which incorporates a large number of the Commission departments:


The Vice-President overseeing all this is Estonia's Andrus Ansip, a former Prime Minister of the country which styles itself as a 'digital society', with e-elections and online tax returns completed in five minutes. Former Energy Commissioner, Germany's Günther Oettinger, will take on a new role as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, which much of the German press saw as an embarrassment, particularly given the high-profile roles secured by France and the UK.

However, with online privacy and data protection such big issues in Germany, particularly following the NSA scandal, his appointment could be significant - not least because he is likely to have very different priorities to Ansip. Oettinger, along with the Czech Justice Commissioner Vĕra Jourová, will be responsible for ensuring passage of new data protection regulations and a revamp of the EU's e-Privacy Directive. He will also work on copyright. In turn, many of these issues will be integral to the US-EU free trade (TTIP) talks currently under way, another area of intense debate in Germany.

It has been noted by some that the CEO of Axel Springer, the owner of German tabloid Bild, publicly backed Juncker's candidacy (heaping pressure on Chancellor Merkel to do the same) and has a long-running beef with US internet giant Google. Whether this was a purely altruistic move we will leave up to you to decide...although we would note that one of Oettinger's first moves after the announcement of his appointment was to warn Google over its market power - a stark change in tone and approach from the previous administration, whatever the motivation.

In short, while Oettinger's appointment may not have been greeted by spontaneous cheers on the streets of Berlin, those in the corridors of power are likely to be quietly pleased. How 'German' the European Commission will be in this area will be interesting to watch.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is the EU about to start another war, a trade war? This time with the US.

More uncertainty, more political agendas and vested interest will only lead Europe to joblessness and depression.

The last pronouncement on privacy and internet engine searches was just embarrassing.

I guess that more of the same is coming with the rest of the world laughing hysterically at what is going on in Europe.

And I haven't even had the chance to vote for these loons.

SC

Anonymous said...

It's fun to watch those geniuses in their denial.
Regulation of the Internet - hilarious!
Crypto currencies are completely out of their control and this is only the beginning.
Thankfully the silly regulations they're forcing onto telcos and other private enterprises will help us easier crush the criminal organization that they are.
Who gets what department is of little relevance - it's just something that helps this or that group of oligarchs make more or less money. The real world lives and develops in another domain, the one which they cannot control.

Rik said...

Oettinger didnot have a clue about energy policies. Hard to see this will be better. Energy could have been for somebody with a brain relatively easy to develop a strategy. Basically it is spreading risks and not urinating over the shoes of heads of state of larger suppliers (like Russia and KSA).

Digital is making calculated bets on the future, while you donot know which techniques etc. will win. A lot more complicated a lot more uncertainty. No job for a dinosaur.

PoliticAl said...

More power to the United States of Germany.

Doesn't really matter. We wont be part of the E.U for much longer.

We want our referendum now.

Anonymous said...

Oettinger? the man can hardly speak
German let alone English, must be
a joke.

Average Englishman said...

More bunkum from our overpaid masters in Brussels. I am inclined to agree with @Rik's comments and think the following observation from the Cheshire Cat in 'Alice in Wonderland' is pertinent:

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."

If that seems a little, well, mad; then it's about right.