In order to overcome the challenges posed by climate protection, ongoing transformations and the consequences of the Russian attack on Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz is calling for a “national effort”. The SPD politician has therefore proposed a Germany pact to “states, municipalities and the democratic opposition” – with the exception of the AfD. Part of the initiative presented on Wednesday is to digitize planning and approval processes end-to-end across all procedural steps, particularly for the expansion of broadband, energy and transport networks.
Acceleration of the approval process
“Artificial intelligence (AI) will also be used,” says the modernization plan for the country. “The federal and state governments will ensure that data from ongoing and completed approval processes can be used to train the AI.” Relevant systems should then apparently suggest priorities for the further expansion and development of infrastructure, which experts consider urgently necessary. Specifically with regard to mobile communications and fiber optic networks, Scholz demands: “The states should promote the uniform construction of smaller cell phone masts without any procedures or permits in order to improve the supply of fast Internet – especially mobile – everywhere in Germany.”
At the moment it can take years before building permits are issued. Experiments with an “approval fiction” are therefore already underway. According to the EU Commission’s plans, applications that are not answered by the authorities within four months will be considered tacitly approved. According to the Chancellor, the construction of the liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals “in record time” has also shown “how useful digital public participation can be in order to speed up procedures”. Online consultations with citizens were just as important as with companies in the planning process. They are now to be extended to all procedures. However, there are currently strong protests against the construction of another LNG terminal on Rügen.
15 Prioritize Services
According to the paper, the federal, state and local governments should also promote the comprehensive digitalization of administration. The focus must be “especially on 15 services” that are “particularly important” to citizens and companies. These should be digitized throughout and be available by the end of 2024. This includes, for example, changing your place of residence and digitally applying for housing benefit, driving license, ID card, parental allowance and citizen’s allowance. The faltering e-government in this country always causes dissatisfaction. It recently became known that the Federal Ministry of the Interior wanted to significantly reduce the funding for the further implementation of the relevant Online Access Act (OZG).
Friedrich Merz, head of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, was only moderately enthusiastic. “The proposal contains several projects to accelerate planning, promote growth, digitalization and migration,” according to the response in a “blitz briefing” from his management and planning staff available online at Heise. But none of them are new; the federal government has even been abducting several of them “for months.” Employer President Rainer Dulger reacted more approvingly to the Rheinische Post: With the announced pact, the Chancellery is finally waking up. Together with the states, the government must now quickly launch the package of measures.
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