The present Green Paper forms part of the Digital Strategy 2025, the broad outlines, measures and goals of which were published by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy at the beginning of March this year. It marks the prelude to a broad discussion. It identifies, defines and correlates the legal and regulatory questions that need to be asked on the issue of digitalisation. The aim is to establish a regulatory framework to facilitate more investments and innovations based on fair competition, while also assuring basic individual and corporate rights and data sovereignty. Success or failure in this task will have a decisive effect on how far digitalisation can enter the mainstream of economic and social life, gain acceptance and be grasped as an opportunity.
Because digital markets differ in some ways fundamentally from conventional ones, we need a new regulatory framework, which means finding new ways to implement effective competition and labour law or ensure high consumer and data protection standards. As we can see in particular from the growing presence and role of digital platforms, such as search engines, social networks and online marketplaces, long-standing principles of the social-market economy are coming under mounting pressure or being undermined. While the progressive expansion of actors such as Facebook, Google, Uber, Airbnb, Amazon and also MyHammer is undoubtedly a measure of growing consumer popularity and power, it is also giving rise to increasing market concentration and the attendant market power, larger volumes of collected and evaluated data and changes in traditional market and competition structures.
This is why the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy already launched a dialogue between experts on a regulatory framework for the digital economy at the end of 2015, to discuss new developments together with the scientific community, businesses, trade unions, associations and the general public, analyse the problems and find solutions. Digital platforms make up a major part of this dialogue.