Legislative framework 4.0 and digital working world: opportunities and challenges for companies and personnel in the “fourth industrial revolution”

Event of BDI and KAS on 13 January 2016 © Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

Economy, society and working world are going digital and face great challenges in this regard. BDI and BDA are devoting themselves intensively to the opportunities and risks of “Industry 4.0” and “Work 4.0”, and in January 2016 shed further light on these two themes in the framework of events.

BDI made a start on 13 January 2016 in Brussels in the framework of a joint event with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in order to present the results of a study commissioned by BDI on the legal challenges of digitalisation.

For this purpose, BDI asked the law firm Noerr LLP to catalogue central legal problems of the digitalised economy in the framework of a survey among the legal affairs departments of numerous German companies.

The results were presented by Professor Bräutigam (Noerr LLP), one of the authors of the report. He came to the final conclusion that European action is necessary in the areas of data protection, confidentiality, cloud computing, data ownership and big data. Only in a few partial areas such as labour law would national rules be more sensible. Michael Hager, Head of Cabinet to European Commissioner Günther Oettinger, welcomed the report as an important contribution for greater legal clarity and ultimately also legal certainty. In the subsequent panel discussion before an audience of ninety guests, representatives of industry (Dr Martin Ahlfeld, Weidmüller Gruppe, as well as Ralf Diemer, German Association of the Automotive Industry/VDA) with Mr Hager, Professor Klindt from Noerr and Mr Axel Voss, Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, debated how policy-makers can set the right course for a successful digital transformation.

BDA applied itself to the opportunities and challenges of the digital working world for companies and work force in a conference organised jointly with Daimler on 27 January 2016 in Brussels.

European Commissioner Günther Oettinger opened the event and focused in his address on education and the Need for greater flexibility in the new working world. He called for more IT education on all educational levels starting at an early age. In addition, companies and their personnel would have to switch to more flexible work models reflecting changed market requirements. The subsequent panel discussion featured, MEP Jutta Steinruck, Michel Servoz, Director General of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Integration, European Commission, Stefan Kapferer, Deputy Secretary General of OECD, with the President of the German Employers’ Confederation Ingo Kramer as well as Wilfried Porth, Daimler AG’s Board of Management Member for Human Resources and Director of Labour Relations. All panel participants agreed on the need to include social partners in the structuring of digital change. Employer President Kramer stated: “Our common goal must be to exploit the potential of education to the full. If we manage to do this, flexibility is not a threat for us Europeans but an opportunity for everyone – the opportunity to determine how to lead our own lives and participate in our society through education and work.”