Cabinet retreat in Meseberg

German government forges ahead with digitalisation

Ten million electric vehicles on the roads by 2030. About 1.1 billion euros to be invested in new mobile communications sites. Digitalisation of all government administrative services by 2022. At the retreat in Meseberg, the German government agreed on measures and strategies to make Germany fit for a digital future.

Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference with Olaf Scholz, Federal Finance Minister

At the close of the retreat, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz reported on the outcomes

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

At the close of the two-day retreat in Meseberg, Chancellor Angela Merkel summed up. "A lot of work lies ahead of us – both in terms of hardware such as the mobile communications strategy, extending the mobile communications network and expanding broadband coverage, and in terms of digitalising our own administration and the way we interact with citizens." 

On 17 and 18 November 2019, the Cabinet met for a retreat at Schloss Meseberg that focused on key aspects of digitalisation. 

Digitalisation for people’s wellbeing

Four key questions dominated the Cabinet retreat in Meseberg: Does our infrastructure provide a good enough foundation for forging ahead with digitalisation? What does modern e-government look like? Can we manage to retain responsible and innovative value creation in a data-driven world? And how are digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and block chain technology changing our society? 

The German government "is using digitalisation for people’s wellbeing, to enhance our prosperity, and to retain people’s sovereignty," said Angela Merkel at a press conference with Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

Mobile communications strategy and e-government

The key issues on day one were the digital infrastructure in Germany and the status of e-government. The Cabinet discussed the Onlinezugangsgesetz (Online Access Act) and the digitalisation of family-related benefits. The German government aims to make all state benefits available online by 2022. This is the focus of the expert network Tech4Germany, which was also invited to Meseberg. Interdisciplinary Tech4Germany teams work in government digitalisation projects, upgrading the administration and making it fit for digitalisation. 

Cryptocurrency, deepfakes and data strategy

On Monday everything revolved around new developments in the field of artificial intelligence and digital currencies. The Cabinet looked at the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence, and the challenges it poses including "deepfakes" - in which artificial intelligence is used to falsify images and videos, such that they are indistinguishable from the original. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann was also invited to Meseberg where he spoke on the opportunities and risks posed by cryptocurrencies.

A regular Cabinet meeting also took place. 

The essentials, in detail:

Better mobile coverage

Germany’s infrastructure must be expanded to handle digital change – that is the crux of the Gesamtstrategie Mobilfunk (overall strategy for mobile communications). One important point is that the government intends to invest about 1.1 billion euros from the Digital Infrastructure Special Fund in developing 5,000 inaccessible mobile communications sites. The mobile communications strategy aims to put Germany in a leading international position with across the board 4G coverage. This is also an important preconditions for the roll-out of 5G, where the Federal Republic of Germany aims to become more of a global trail-blazer.

Masterplan charging structure and environmental bonus

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Digitalisation of family-related benefits

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Handling data responsibly

How can we manage, in a data-driven world to ensure that value creation is responsible and innovative? This is another important question on the agenda of the Cabinet retreat. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann was in Meseberg to discuss with the Cabinet the opportunities and risks posed by digital currencies, or cryptocurrencies as they are also known.

"Deepfakes" – a major challenge

Artificial intelligence offers many opportunities, but also poses many challenges, especially for our democratic order. Experts agree that in future elections could be massively influenced by "deepfakes" in which artificial intelligence is used to falsify images and videos, such that they are indistinguishable from the original. In Meseberg, the government discussed strategies for addressing deepfakes with experts.

German government’s data strategy

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