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Coalition agreement shows the only viable path to digital sovereignty

The declarations of intent on digital sovereignty made by the new coalition are extremely promising. Public administration has a key role to play in their consistent implementation.
Tobias Gerlinger, CEO ownCloud, diatance learning solution by ownCloud and Auctores

The new coalition is sending highly encouraging signals in the direction of digital sovereignty. The recently presented coalition agreement gives this topic a high priority and focuses primarily on open source software. In doing so, it shows the only viable path to Europe’s digital independence. After all, strengthening Europe’s open source ecosystems is our only chance to create our own powerful digital economy and thus real alternatives to the large U.S. and Chinese hyperscalers.

Public administration plays a very decisive role in this. The new government is aware of this. In its coalition agreement, it explicitly declares its intention that new developments by public authorities should generally be commissioned as open source. We assume that the spirit of this declaration of intent also extends to the procurement of standard software. It does not have to go as far as in France, where the interministerial director for the digitization of the state recently banned the use of Microsoft Office 365 altogether. In our view, it is sufficient for German authorities to consistently procure European open source solutions wherever possible.

A positive side effect is that the state can also avoid the expensive lock-in effect of proprietary solutions. Just how strong this effect is can be seen in the federal government’s spending on Microsoft products. As an inquiry to the federal government revealed last year, this expenditure has almost quadrupled since 2015 and amounted to a whopping 178.5 million euros in 2020. Significant savings can be expected through the consistent use of open source solutions.

The declarations of intent in the coalition agreement on digital sovereignty are promising. We look forward to their consistent implementation.

Tobias Gerlinger

November 30, 2021

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