Digital Europe

'Unite, or the U.S. Will Dictate Rules'

French economics minister Emmanuel Macron wants closer digital cooperation with Germany. Source: AP
French economics minister Emmanuel Macron wants closer digital cooperation with Germany.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron argues that without cooperation on issues such as regulation of data privacy, European countries will have to submit to rules imposed by others, especially the United States.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The plan is for a partnership between France’s “Industry of the Future” project and Germany’s “Industry 4.0” program.
    • The collaboration would create a system to improve financing for startups.
    • Mr. Macron wants true solidarity among European countries.
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  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

With its drones, smart lighting and robots that crawl up the walls, the French economy minister’s office could be a showroom for digital objects. Thirty-seven-year-old Emmanuel Macron loves young companies, and he’s hatching a plan with the Germans to promote them.

Mr. Macron, a former adviser to French President François Hollande, has brought a welcome injection of youthful energy, enthusiasm and plain-speaking to the French cabinet.

But the former investment banker and rising star of French politics with the power to shake things up is as feared as he is loved.

He hopes that his latest plot, a collaboration with Germany to promote Europe’s digital economy, will help promote workforce mobility, harmonize data protection policies and hammer out common European standards for new technologies such as self-driving cars.

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her economics minister, Sigmar Gabriel, will meet with French President François Hollande and Mr. Macron in the Elysee Palace to adopt a declaration on the planned collaboration.

Talking to Handelsblatt in an exclusive interview, Mr. Macron expanded on his ideas ahead of the key talks – and called for closer and better cooperation in the euro zone.

Handelsblatt: Minister Macron, France and Germany want to combine forces to move forward in the dgital economy. Will they succeed?

Mr. Macron: I think we have real prospects of success. Digitization is rocking our economies. It’s breaking down the barriers between classic sectors – that makes our companies vulnerable.

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