German Chancellor Angela Merkel highlighted the risks of new technology and its role in the financial crisis, at the CeBIT tech trade fair in Hannover
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that technology played a role in the economic crisis and countries must be aware of the risks and rewards from new IT and communications systems.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the CeBIT tech trade fair held in Hannover this week, Chancellor Merkel congratulated the organisers of the show for maintaining its position as the largest event of its kind in Europe, but also warned that other countries were catching up.
“This year is the 25th anniversary of CeBIT and I should like to congratulate the organisers,” she said. “Not all the years have been simple or easy but today CeBIT is still the leading IT exhibition. But you can actually feel the competitors catching up from many sides.”
In particular Merkel made reference to the Mobile World Congress event held last month in Barcelona, seen as the biggest show in the telecoms industry calendar. “One is actually in Spain, Barcelona at the mobile phone fair [Mobile World Congress]. But we would like to keep CeBIT the largest and most important fair so that we can celebrate its 50th anniversary – not with me here but someone else.”
But as well as extolling the importance of CeBIT show and Germany’s prowess in innovation, Merkel also used her speech as an opportunity to hold forth on the risks of new technology and its role in the financial crisis. “We have to understand risks and minimise them when using these new technologies. All these things that let us move closer together also lead to a situation – we have seen this with the financial crisis – where we are much more easily hurt,” she said. “We need rules for the global economy. We need stable currencies and on top of this we need a free and open global market not based on protectionism.”
Merkel also used the opportunity to discuss the importance of the maintaining the strength of the Euro and threats to the currency poised by countries such as Greece. “There is again speculation against countries that have piled up debt,” she said. “It is important that we all return to the rule of the stability and growth pact. This applies to the efforts of the Greek government – the very intensive efforts – which we believe as the path for markets to trust again.”
The German Chancellor also spelled out her government’s commitment to rolling out better broadband infrastructure across Germany including high-speed broadband. “In rural areas there is still a lot to be done,” she said. “Three quarters of our households are to have high perfomance with 50Mbps at least. That is a very ambitious aim but we all stand by this aim. This basic infrastructure is one of the most important tasks.”
In the UK, the Conservative Party recently announced plans to improve the UK’s Internet infrastructure if it wins the general election, promising speeds of 100 Mbps for the “majority” of homes by 2017.