The US needs Europe’s help by a new Marshall Plan!

Families stick together. A “We feeling” unites us. If things go particularly well, this will result in family businesses that expand over many generations. Families sometimes argue, but ultimately they support each other when it comes to threats from the outside. We transfer the feeling in the small to the society on the big. Here, too, we act, shaped by our ancestors and with the desire to leave something to our descendants.

It was probably also the family ties of descent, which after the Second World War led to the fact that the mostly European-rooted American did not want to suppress their relatives, but in a Marshall plan made a decisive contribution to post-war construction.

In recent years, the children of Europe have increasingly embarked on a disruptive path. They have not only destroyed companies in the scope of digitalisation, but have increasingly divided their families, divided them into political camps to the point that they could no longer talk to each other. This divide Biden will not be able to lift without the help of Europe.

It is not least thanks to the great success of the Marshall Plan that we Europeans do not question the American path but continue to seek orientation in the USA until today. This became very vivid in the “Deutsches Wirtschaftsforum digital” on three days in the first week of November. Outstanding contributions analysed the actual differences between the US and Europe: “Half of Americans want to carry weapons and feel health insurance is a restriction of freedom. The individual is more important than the family. The high inheritance tax is not geared to the preservation of family businesses.”

The theme of the event was: “Democracy and the digital economy – the European path.” I found it incomprehensible why there were invited a majority of non-European speakers to the topic of AI. For example, the Radboud University Nijmegen has been teaching AI for 30 years. All Global Player contributions were out of place. Regardless of whether it was a Chinese, American or European international technology company, the answers were similar: “You make the rules and we build them in”. Such a result is then a little authoritarian Chinese, disruptively American and contains only the absolute necessary European guidelines. The Economic Forum has correctly presented the problems, but has not been able to show the prospect of its own European path.

To make rules for all those involved in the digital economy is to make the third step before the first step. In the beginning it is necessary to define how pre-digital democratic achievements can be transferred to a digital society for an own European infrastructure in solid craftsmanship and not destructively. For this I wrote a draft for a Marshall Plan and focused on three goals:

  1. The optimal processing and easy utilisation of digital data, while maintaining diversity and performance-adopted integration of all parties involved in the value creation.
  2. The stigmatisation-free, lifelong digital involvement of all citizens with incentives for self-development.
  3. Digitally guaranteeing the necessary state tasks to preserve the security of citizens, the economy and the state, while maintaining pre-digital democratic achievements.

In a second step, these goals must be adapted to the current challenges of the Western world. The Marshall Plan has to answer three questions:

  1. How can Europe take responsibility for its own security?
  2. How can a division between families, between social groups, and in the Western world be avoided or even lifted?
  3. How do we use the Corona crisis as an opportunity to build a Western digital economy?

At present, the security debate is mainly about the expansion of classic weapon systems. For someone like me who has been fighting unfair measures by the data-users for 20 years, it is very unlikely that we will go to a conventional war again. Who would do that and what advantage would it have? It is much easier and, above all, undetectable to attack people, groups or even industries by a virus. We can stand up for Europe’s security by introducing an infrastructure in which every citizen can protect himself and his or her data. I have proposed such an infrastructure in the form of an EU-D-S (European digital system) of the European Commission. Since primarily defined open standards and some technical procedures are introduced, the EU-D-S would be transferable to the US. This own contribution to security would not cost Europe a cent if we were to bring back the digital value ceation, in particular from American companies. I have given detailed statements on the further synergy effects at http: //gisad.eu/statements/.

Europe has just agreed on a procedure for respecting the rule of law. It can speak with one voice. Now Europe must respond quickly to the challenge of the Corona crisis. Even if a quick vaccination succeeds, we will not be able to return to our old habits before Christmas 2021. Many new habits and changes will remain. The next year will suffice to divide Europe too, unless there is a new perspective for all Europeans quickly. The social fabric is changing. While so far a relatively steadily growing prosperity offered the social cement, Corona reshuffled the cards. On the one hand, there are winners who can sit out the crisis in the home office and others who are now forced daily to expose themselves to the risk of contagion. There are entire industries receiving artificial respiration by state support, but with a longer-lasting pandemic, they have no chance of recovery. A state can compensate for losses resulting from the pandemic, but not for social distortions caused by people losing their social frame of reference through the pandemic. Short-time worker money works for a few weeks. However, where work cannot be outsourced to the home office, the daily routine disappears. There is a lack of the task by which one has defined oneself. Frustration and fear of an indefinite future are increasing.

The pandemic intensifies digital misdevelopments. Social media programs have not been developed to increase democratic, social cohesion. The content generated by the users has the only purpose to serve as a carrier for advertising. Thus, phenomena such as fake news were not taken into account in business models. They do not attach importance to self-determined users. These false digitalisation concepts support the natural laziness of people. (I found no equivalent for the German word “Bequemlichkeit”. “comfort”, “amenity”, “ease”, “accommodativeness” and “convenience” are too positively occupied, “laziness” too negative. So I will use laziness.)

What happens when only the third step of regulation has been made without making the first two steps, a 80-year-old relative has once again impressively demonstrated to me at the weekend. For several years she has been reading her e-mails on her tablet. Now it was about a PDF attachment for which the corresponding PDF reader was missing. Supervised by me via phone, multiple attempts to get an app ended on pressing advertising instead of the installation process. There are also problems with the feed reader I had installed just before. For most posts, you first have to accept cookies in popups. Advertisements are positioned in such a way that you accidentally click on them. That’s a total overload for someone who’s been reading from top to bottom all his life. The GDPR has only contributed to the user’s data protection to the extent that my relative has now completely renounced digital newspaper reading and has subscribed to a print newspaper again. Integration of old people looks different.

The digital echo chambers aim at the convenience of people. Those who were never expected to participate in decisions do not see any sense in the critical reflection of information. They are looking for like-minded people on social media that they are perceived by. For example, continued support for Republicans depends substantially on socially forgotten groups, which Trump has given the feeling of representing their interests.

An EU-D-S must not only provide security to people, but must integrate them into a permanent democratic process. This integration must be so simple and self-evident that everyone can participate in it. My relative lives alone. Together with others, she could make valuable contributions to the digital society if she could contribute according to her capability. That would help her, too. Everyone wants to be a valuable part of society. If we have an EU-D-S with such an integration possibility, we will achieve such a high proportion of society, which can be built on this basis of numerous new value creation concepts. Then the users will also pay monthly contributions for information. However, I think individual newspaper subscriptions are outdated. If you have learned to evaluate different media via a feed reader, you won’t pay to restrict yourself to only one medium. Alternatively, an EU-D-S would allow an author levy per read article, which could be paid by the user over a staggered monthly price. Anyone who has exceeded a certain monthly reading quantity, adds further contributions, advertising-free of course. Advertising should work in the pull principle. In a global category standard, each user could determine to which categories he wants to receive advertising. It is important that advertising becomes a user-controlled process. Our goal must be to take everyone into the digitalisation process. If everyone were to participate in the EU-D-S, there would also be solutions for financing artistic digital offerings. The current social media structures are directed against diversity. Sick information is suitable for a Shitstorm or for getting acquainted with only some influencers. This is due to processes that lead all users to the first result of a page and thus prefer those who made it to the first page. If all content is randomly presented and condensed digitally to a group of evaluators, all content has the same chance of being perceived. If every European city can recommend a regionally based and successful startup bottom-up to other cities, startups in Europe also have a real chance. Startups don’t need money in the first place, they need perception. It is difficult to achieve this at a time when the focus is exclusively on the US and China. How are new concepts to prevail if information structures of competition need to be used for dissemination? For a successful Europe, the basic structure for disseminating information must be general good.

The EU-D-S must provide an overall societal approach in which critical citizen participation in the evaluation of content is an integral part of a lifelong integration strategy for all EU citizens.

Even if this civil rights infrastructure is provided free of charge to every EU citizen, it will only be successful if there are incentive systems to leave the path of habit. There must be a social promise of integration for all those who participate. Society should expect a (small) digital return for any crisis support from the state.

An EU-D-S cannot be introduced overnight. Today it is about a realistic vision of the future against pandemic depression, which offers a perspective for those who are particularly affected by Corona. Tremendous forces can be released if all EU citizens move in the same direction!

Digital Society – The Strength of German Politics Leads to the Decline of Europe

Exponentially increasing dependencies on Software and hardware manufacturers outside the EU were ignored by politicians. The citizens had no say in the resulting restrictions on their freedom rights.

At the press conference, Angela Merkel once again demonstrated why she is Chancellor in TV „Tagesthemen“ of 22.45 a.m. on 15 October 2020. A pile of paper lay in front of her and was intended to help explain the new rules drawn up jointly at the Corona Summit. Merkel began to read from the notes. However, after a few notes, she confused the papers or found no relevant information in it. In real multitasking, one did notice in the lecture not for a second that at the same time she flipped through her papers in search of something relevant to find. Rather, she spoke without a point or comma, stylistically impeccable. No one was stigmatized. Everyone was integrated and exhorted. Content that could not be agreed on at this time – probably most of them – were avoided.


Like Mrs Merkel, one must act as a majority-capable politician. But increasingly missing those who identify unambiguous truths. When someone has found truth, he should not deviate a millimetre from the demands resulting from these truths. I see myself in such a position with regard to the demands for a digital society. I’ve been searching for truths for 25 years. As a politician, I’m completely unsuitable. I can get irritate myself in a short lecture when I realise that I thought one or the other not to an end. That’s why I prefer to post in writing or in videos that I can edit at will, until there are no questions left unanswered. For that, when I have thought something to the end, I am only very seldom mistaken.


The German government can score points in the pandemic because every citizen can directly notice the personal consequences of a measure and can be traced in the hospitals of Europe, what it means when the virus escalates. Above all, every citizen can participate in a common goal.


But it is precisely the strength of a Merkel-styled Germany with influencing the EU, which finds a compromise for everything and everyone, why i fear, will lead to Europe’s dissolution in the next ten years. Germany is doing well within Europe because we Germans are particularly good at sticking to rules. But if we compare Europe with Asia, we suddenly realise that even democratic countries such as South Korea survive with much fewer deaths and much less consequences for the Corona economy. In this way, they will become stronger in competition with Europe.


In Europe, it is argued that our freedom rights are a very high asset for us and that such a hard lockdown, as usual in Asia, is therefore out of the question. We also reject a complete tracking of infected people. The truth is, it has been so good for us for many years with a diplomacy of mediating that we have been able to afford freedom rights without having to do much for it. Politics has failed to take citizens along in a change that has now taken place without and against the citizens.


Not only is the Corona pandemic growing exponentially, but also global digitalisation is rapidly changing the world accordingly. Digitalisation relentlessly exposes the weaknesses of our policies. Today, the reference to our freedoms rights is often hypocritical because we have let decades pass unused without worrying about a digital strategy that preserves freedom.


As a downside of eternal mediation, Europe’s strategic vacuum has emerged in terms of preserving pre-digital democratic achievements. Diversity must not become the opposite of a social concept. But this is exactly what happens when, for example, a Belgian initiative against terrorism no longer dynamically wants to associate IP addresses but with groups of up to 16, then identifiable users, or Germany is constantly thinking about retention of personalised data and on the other hand, laws such as the GDPR or e-Privacy arise.


We can learn from Corona and dictatorships that a piece of dictatorship can be necessary in democracy. It is the dictatorship of truth. Ultimately, all Europeans have subjected themselves to the predictions of virologists in the pandemic. These predictions are nothing more than a scientific knowledge condensed to the truth. If, after many hundred years of social development, we in Europe have at least a majority understanding of the rule of law, civil rights and diversity, then these are truths that must be enforced without ifs and but also in digitalisation.


We can and must use Corona together with digitalisation to be better positioned in future pandemics than authoritarian states can do in their system limitations. We must take advantage of the opportunity to take every citizen on the digital journey. Together we are much stronger than a single dictator.


Unfortunately, the challengesare much higher and more complex than the Corona pandemic. Because digitisation doesn’t come suddenly. In a creeping process, over the past two decades, citizens have learned that they have to exchange their personal data and have to give up many civil rights if they want to participate in the digital society. Companies and states have understood too late what fundamental dependencies they have gone into. In order to understand the complexity of created dependencies, I recommend a podcast from the FAZ: “Why modern wars are waged with semiconductors”, see  a href=“https://m.faz.net/podcasts/f-a-z-digitec-podcast/warum-moderne-kriege-mit-halbleitern-gefuehrt-werden-16993545.html“ 
So many steps have been taken without the citizens in the wrong direction, so that only with democratic processes the missed can no longer be made up.

One can certainly speak of the fact that digital Europe is an occupied zone that needs a Marshall Plan to get back on its own feet at all. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called for such a Marshall Plan. I wrote a draft for a Marshall Plan and made it available to the European Commission. I have also participated in various consultations, see http://gisad.eu/statements/ .

As a prerequisite, I have assumed several truths which, in my view, have been scientifically proven to be acceptable without further democratic discussions:

  1. Digitalisation supports the natural laziness of people. Laziness is the enemy of self-empowerment. Democracies need to develop incentive systems to maintain or even further develop people’s self-empowerment in a digital society.
  2. Optimised (well-processed) data are a prerequisite for a successful European digital economy.
  3. The majority of people do not like to receive alms, but want to return something when receiving social benefits, as long as this stigmatisation-free is possible.
  4. The state needs digital tools to ensure security. In a digital society, these tools must not restrict citizens’ rights more than in a pre-digital society.

There are three objectives for the Marshall Plan, to which all other EU measures on digitisation have to be subordinated:

  1. The optimal processing and easy utilisation of digital data, while maintaining diversity and performance-adopted integration of all parties involved in the value creation.
  2. The stigmatisation-free, lifelong digital involvement of all citizens with incentives for self-development.
  3. Digitally guaranteeing the necessary state tasks to preserve the security of citizens, the economy and the state, while maintaining pre-digital democratic achievements.

Against the background of the above-mentioned truths, European countries are currently making the following mistakes:

  1. Simple data processing is hindered by the mix of personal data with information important to the general public. A civil rights infrastructure in an EU-D-S (European digital system) would remove obstacles and put Europe at the forefront of competition for the best data.
  2. Corona forces many people to work short-time or become unemployed. Many companies receive bridging aids and are not fully utilised. Here, at the expense of taxpayers, more money is given away than ever before. The unique opportunity is wasted to obtain high-quality data for Europe’s economy and citizens in return for the subventions that are then used in a meaningful way. At the same time, the wrong incentives are placed on the comfort of the citizens and against their self-development.
  3. Instead of creating an optimal infrastructure for citizens, the economy and the state, there is a constant struggle between the state and the economy for sovereignty over citizens’ personal digital data.

In the first quarter of 2021, the Commission will deal with all the submissions. It remains to be hoped that in the EU institutions the decision-makers will have the power to adopt against a policy of compromises shaped by Germany in favour of a European overall strategy of a Marshall Plan, which ultimately makes sense for all EU citizens. Through a smart digital citizen participation must be ensured that such a long lasting avoid development of the citizen rights can never be repeated.

Olaf Berberich