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Günther Oettinger to promote digital roadmap

Günther Oettinger has been E.U. commissioner for the digital economy and society for just over six months. The former energy commissioner and German state governor is still on a steep learning curve as he promotes Brussels‘ digital vision.

It was another one of those Günther Oettinger moments.

The flat screen monitor in front of the E.U. commissioner in charge of digital policy showed a strawberry and an orange. The one image had good quality, the other poor. The better quality image consisted of densely packed blue dots, the other of individual blue dots in a diagram.

A young Frenchman next to the monitor told Mr. Oettinger that the bad image was transmitted via 3G, or third-generation mobile phone technology. The few dots depicted the data packets sent. The better image, with many dots, was transmitted via the new 5G technology currently under development, which the European Union is generously funding.

The young man gave a good presentation, but Mr. Oettinger, on a tour of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, appeared puzzled. He looked at the fruit and the dots, wrinkled his brow and then gazed at the young Frenchman, as if he were talking about quantum physics. Then Mr. Oettinger asked in English: “What could be the outcome of this?”

The Frenchman looked confused. Then a man from the Fraunhofer Institute leaned forward and said in German: “This demonstration shows how 5G can send more data in less time than we’ve been able to do so far.” The commissioner nodded and continued his tour of the trade fair.

Such scenarios often occur in the new life of Günther Oettinger as the European Union’s digital commissioner after having been in charge of its energy policies.  “The problem is you’re constantly confronted with new technologies and terminology you need to learn,” said Mr. Oettinger.

He has been in the new position for six months. In that time, he has been explaining to 500 million E.U. citizens how he intends to protect their data from the U.S. National Security Ageny, or NSA, in the future, how he plans to fence in Google and Apple and how he wants to make European companies more competitive through advanced digital technologies.

Mr. Oettinger is fully in sync with industry leaders on that front. “Digitalization is a vital issue for German and European manufacturers,” said Joe Kaeser, the chief executive of Siemens, at a recent meeting with politicians and industry representatives in Brussels. Europeans, he said, must be very careful or risk being “crushed between the U.S. and China and becoming meaningless.” Mr. Kaeser called for a borderless digital single market, more protection against cyber attacks and uniform data protection.

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Source: Handelsblatt Global Edition

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