“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Angela Merkel at World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos (WEF, 22/01/2015)

Angela Merkel at World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos (WEF, 22/01/2015)

At the second day of the World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos the world was expecting the German Chancellor, Mrs Angela Merkel, in one of the most awaited sessions, titled “Global responsibilities in a digital age”. Mrs Merkel’s speech was warm and stimulating covering the hot issues of the European political agenda. To a disappointment though of the “digi-enthusiasts” who attended the main congress hall of the Davos congress centre, the only thing from the German politician’s speech that talked digital was the title of the session.

Indeed the “revealing insights” on digital growth inside Mrs Merkel’s speech in Davos were not substantial. Nevertheless, it is well worth it here to analyse her speech and show how more than often “digital” is used mostly as a trendy word by politicians to divert attention to other significant topics of their agenda. The reader will be able to understand quickly that what the Prime Minister of the greatest European economy talks about digital economy is rather common knowledge.

First, Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, welcomed the German leader very warmly and with much honour. He said “you really belong here to the family in Davos!”. There is definitely no warmer regard to be addressed than that. Mr Schwab also gave her the stimulus of the day, the ECB’s decision for Quantitative Easing, which was on its way from Frankfurt.

Terrorism in Europe

Mrs Merkel, as Francois Hollande also did one day later, she introduced us to her thoughts with a reference to the Paris’ horrible attacks earlier in the month. The German Chancellor treated the issue of terrorism and security fears in Europe in a very rigid manner. “We are facing challenges that do not stop at the borders of Europe”, she stressed. Exactly like Mr Hollande, who had probably studied very well Mrs Merkel speech before landing in Davos, she mentioned the solidarity demonstration in Paris, where millions of citizens took part. Mrs Merkel, argued that in Europe lately we had to fight for and defend the things that we take for granted, like freedom of expression or freedom of press; some perennial values of the European culture.

Ukraine

From Paris the experienced politician passed on to Kiev, where she talked about the Ukrainian crisis that hit last year Europe. She actually admitted that the Russian attack was rather unexpected. The very principles of European peaceful coexistence were violated, she underlined, with the illegal annexation of Crimea. Nevertheless, she made it clear that Europe has learned its lessons from world war conflicts and thus a military response to Russia would not be successful. Hence, she argued in favour of sanctions against Russia as the only peaceful European way to react on this imminent threat. She also confirmed that Europe is already ready to lift them but “we are not there yet”. Instead, Mrs Merkel said that Germany together with France are trying to bring a diplomatic solution to the table.

Black or White

Interestingly and relatively fast the German “Iron Lady” went on by speaking about the European economy. She acknowledged that still Europe is facing some great challenges, particularly referring to the crisis in the euro area. Trust is not yet earned towards the eyes of investors in the Old Continent. Further, she made a very interesting point on the Austerity Vs. Growth debate. She insightfully argued that there is no black or white in life and neither in politics. She said she was convinced about the need for what seems to be a hybrid “growth oriented sound fiscal policy”. So, in short, Mrs Merkel revealed to the world here that austerity can be growth oriented as well. Having gained the sharp interest of her audience she continued by pointing out that we need in Europe investments by the state but most of all an “environment for private investors”.

Germany does not influence ECB

Answering to Professor Schawb’s relevant remark about the position of Germany on Quantitative Easing, Mrs Merkel being perfectly diplomatic underlined that the ECB is an independent institution and will always be. What she meant with that is that Germany has nothing to do with ECB’s decisions, namely the much awaited QE (Quantitative Easing) that was to be launched on that very same day. Apparently many senior participants of the World Economic Forum this year would disagree with her. For instance a senior executive of an international organisation said to us unofficially during a coffee break at the conference: “Better late than ever! QE should have been launched at least one year ago, but Germany did not allow that”.

Overlooking the theoretical commitment of Germany to ECB’s independence, whose Board of Governors by the way is heavily represented by the strongest European economy, the German Chancellor spoke about the simultaneous need for reforms. She certainly welcomed all the European member states that have been all the way down that road like Italy, Greece and France soon to follow, as she reassured.

Digital Growth

It was then finally the first time in her speech that Mrs Merkel mentioned the word “digital”. As we were all expecting for her to fulfil the essence of the session’s title, “Global Responsibilities in a Digital Age”, we saw that for Mrs Merkel “digital” means primarily quality employment. Describing “digitisation” as a phenomenon, the important politician expressed her open content that the Commission is giving the importance it should on the “digital agenda”. While we know many people in Brussels who would heavily argue on that, Mrs Merkel did acknowledge that the EU is lagging behind on digital economy compared to the USA and some asian markets.

Moreover, the German Chancellor interestingly commented that “we need to find the right mix between protection of the data but also freedom to use that data to develop new products”. After trying to set the boundaries of “data protection” in one sentence, a rather complex matter in Europe today, she added: “as German Chancellor i want our economy to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”. She went on by saying that if Europe does not adjust to this digital era, it will use its competitiveness. She closed this brief “digital chapter” of her political discourse by stressing that the potential of digital economy in Europe is massive, “with our huge single market”. But Europe needs to become “more rapid”, “more competitive” and “less regulated”. We are sure many digital single market evangelists in Brussels would like to shake her hand after this last statement.

Germany does not spend

“Some people accuse us of being too tight with our money as regards to budgetary policy”, Mrs Merkel continued. She clearly wanted to explain to the people that “accuse” her why she does not like to spend the German taxpayer’s money for the internal economy to grow. Mrs Merkel argues that everybody should remember that Germany is the biggest European labour market, with 43 million people, out of a total of 80 million inhabitants, active working force. She also said that more than 6 million people will go to pension in Germany. “If we are not solid with our money and try to keep our debts down, then we will leave a very heavy burden to the next generation”. That would be simply “irresponsible” she stressed. For Mrs Merkel, like that Germany is able to increase internal consumption of its citizens and be competitive in the world.

All in all, the leading politician of Germany made a very relevant and interesting speech at the second day of the World Economic Forum in Davos. However, touching a number of hot issues in the agenda, she did not devote a good part on the “digital age” that the title of the session would by default require to do so.

A general remark is that the word “digital” should be cautiously used in political discourse, not as a trendy stimulus to attract interest towards hot issues like the “Ukranian conflict” etc, but rather as in depth analysis of any digital policy matter per se.

Stay tuned at the European Sting, the only Brussels media that effectively broke the “Brussels bubble” and made it to Davos with live critical coverage of the most important sessions of the World Economic Forum 2015.

You can view her full speech from Davos here:

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

A multipolar world brings back the national champions

Latest Eurobarometer survey (July-August): Economic situation is EU citizens’ top concern in light of the coronavirus pandemic

Commission announces actions to make Europe’s raw materials supply more secure and sustainable

ECB to support only banks not Peoples

Transition between education and employment: how the internship culture is threatening the foundations of our education

The European Sting @ the European Business Summit 2014 – Where European Business and Politics shape the future

€2 billion to fast forward the creation of the European Innovation Council

Financiers can turn the world into a dirty and dangerous place

UN chief hopeful for Libya, after Quartet meeting in Tunis

Final vote on European Solidarity Corps

Global South cooperation ‘vital’ to climate change fight, development, Guterres tells historic Buenos Aires summit

Two peacekeepers killed in an attack against UN convoy in Mali

‘Endemic’ sexual violence surging in South Sudan: UN human rights office

This Indian school accepts plastic waste instead of fees

Insurer CEOs Reveal Marketing Strategies that Communicate the True Value of Insurance Products & Services to the Customer

After globalization what? Europe’s long, straining shake-up post Davos wreckage

Large parts of the world are growing more fragile. Here are 5 steps to reverse course

More answers from Facebook ahead of Parliament hearing today

Digital business is Europe’s best hope to get back to growth

Children in crisis-torn eastern Ukraine ‘too terrified to learn’ amid spike in attacks on schools

I went blind at age 5, but managed to stay in education. We must ensure 93 million children with disabilities get the same chance

Brexit: reciprocal visa-free access for EU and UK nationals

In 1975 NASA envisioned future life in space would look like this

Climate Change : An Already Health Emergency

China Unlimited Special Report: The trip to China

Commission publishes EU Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online continues to deliver results

UN rights chief calls for release of hundreds abducted and abused in South Sudan

Peace in the Gulf ‘at a critical juncture’ says DiCarlo, urging continuation of Iran nuclear deal

European Vocational Skills Week: ‘VET for Green and Digital Transitions’

Commission to decide on bank resolution issues

Conditions deteriorating alarmingly in Yemen, warns senior UN official

Federalist EU ‘naively’ believes Washington shares her TTIP high fever

Lessons in disaster relief from the world’s most cyclone-battered state

Violence against women a ‘mark of shame’ on our societies, says UN chief on World Day

Global economy faces gravest threat since the crisis as coronavirus spreads

COVID-19 has ushered in the age of the ‘intangible company’. Here are 4 ways it will change business

Vaccination challenges for middle and low-income countries

Youth not prioritised in new Commission

Two refugees explain what COVID-19 means in their precarious world

Team Europe contributes €500 million to COVAX initiative to provide one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses for low and middle income countries

EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement sees the light as Moscow’s reaction once more looms

FROM THE FIELD: Photos highlight agony of West African civil wars

90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers

Estonia is making public transport free

These are the world’s best universities by subject

COVID-19: Commission creates first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment

Can we create an empathic alternative to the capitalist system?

Gender Equality Index 2019: Still far from the finish line

5 things you may not know about Dubai

In this Tokyo cafe, the waiters are robots operated remotely by people with disabilities

What does leadership mean in an age of perpetual change?

Economy and living standards of Gaza ‘eviscerated’ by crippling blockade – UN trade and development report

EU Copyright Directive: Will US tech giants comply or ditch the EU market?

Thousands of health professionals call on world leaders to prioritize a greener future, post-pandemic

Tobacco-free public space – how is the European law executed in my country?

Turning waste into wealth: World Habitat Day focus on cleaning up cities

EU Budgets: Europe hoping for Xmas gifts

These are the world’s most competitive economies

What lies ahead for the Korean Peninsula?

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum to open its door on 14th January, in association with The European Sting

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s