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Securing Germany's digital sovereignty

Stable networks, powerful cloud solutions and a reliable digital infrastructure are currently making their mark as the backbone of economic and social life in Germany. The framework conditions for the industry are disadvantageous, not to say difficult, in European and international comparison.

The COVID 19 pandemic is severely restricting public life. State-imposed contact bans, curfews, school closures and home office recommendations are shifting many areas mainly to digital. The networks are stable, the digital infrastructures can withstand the higher loads.

Data centers are system relevant

The fact that data centres are essential for the functioning of society, the economy and public order is once again becoming apparent in these times of crisis. Data centers are relevant to the system, not necessarily only from 5 MW IT performance / year, as the KRITIS definition evaluates it. Santa Clara and the UK explicitly declare data center employees as systemically relevant in the Corona pandemic - combined with the right to childcare and the right to go to work despite exit restrictions. Across Europe, the data center industry is not officially recognized by the government as part of critical infrastructure. GDA's cooperation partner the Dutch Data Center Association, together with the European Data Centre Association, is pursuing the goal of having the data centre sector recognised as Crucial Industry.

Disadvantageous conditions in international comparison

In contrast to the high value for society, the general conditions the industry is confronted with in Germany. German data centers are designed to be secure, reliable and sustainable. Science, research and designers are constantly striving to make data centers even more energy efficient. While other European governments are proactively improving the framework conditions for the data center industry (e.g. Norway), operators of German data centers - in contrast to other energy-intensive industries - have to pay the full Renewable Energies Act levy (EEG-Umlage) on the electricity consumed. "With the argument that services provided in data centers - unlike the manufacturing sector - would not be in international competition," explains Jens Peter Müller, Vice Chairman of the GERMAN DATACENTER ASSOCIATION.

While the basic prices for electricity are similar throughout Europe, the electricity costs of German data centres are up to six times higher than those of their European competitors due to taxes, charges and network fees. Electricity accounts for around 50% of the operating costs of German data centres. This weakens the competitiveness of German data centres immensely.

Müller fears an outflow of services and data abroad: "After Corona, every medium-sized company will have to actively think about its digital strategy and digital readyness. However, if this leads to exploding electricity costs for the data center in the event of outsourcing from a self-operated data center to a Colo data center, he may prefer platform offers from US providers. There it is again: the international competition - with unequal signs.

Digital sovereignty indispensable

Independence from foreign Internet companies is recommended in any case, since control over data protection and IT security is highest in the own country.

This digital sovereignty must be strengthened with improved framework conditions for data center operators in Germany.

COVID-19-Pandemie macht es offensichtlich: Datacenter sind systemrelevant, sollten entsprechend anerkannt und gefördert werden