The digital economy requires a European legal environment fit for the future


BDI and Noerr present survey and legal opinion on digital transformation of the economy.

The German economy requires a uniform and future-oriented European legal environment in order to successfully develop new digital innovations, applications and business models. Moderate legislation is required for this: less new but stronger harmonisation of existing national provisions. That is the result of a survey of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and Noerr LLP of legal departments of German companies and from a Noerr legal opinion commissioned by the BDI.

The legal departments surveyed see the main areas for action in the direction of European harmonisation firstly in data law – including data protection and data/IT security – and IP law. In data protection law, those surveyed believe that non-European competitors from states with less regulatory intensity have an advantage. Existing provisions should therefore be further developed moderately and harmonised throughout Europe. The surveyed experts and the Noerr experts on the other hand do not see any need for action on the question of ownership of data – a statutory provision is not immediately necessary. However, the further technical and economic development should be monitored.

“The survey clearly proves that the companies are prepared to take a high degree of responsibility themselves”, said Dieter Schweer, member of the BDI Executive Board. For many legal problems of digitalisation – for example the protection of secrets, cloud computing or development cooperation –  companies prefer standardised precedents or individual agreements. “Companies, however, reach the limits of existing legal systems when using completely autonomous systems”, said Noerr partner Prof. Dr. Peter Bräutigam. That relates for example to autonomous cars without the possibility to intervene or self-learning industrial robots. “The question of responsibility for damage caused by autonomous systems is completely open at present”, emphasised Bräutigam. Further development of the

Public Liability Act could be considered in this area to reasonably secure business risks newly arising from digitalisation.

The BDI and Noerr in a survey of legal departments of German companies have highlighted central legal problems of the digitalised economy. In addition, Noerr has prepared a comprehensive legal opinion commissioned by BDI.


Industrie 4.0 – Rechtliche Herausforderungen der Digitalisierung
Industrie 4.0 – Legal challenges of digitalisation
(Summary of survey and legal opinion)

You can access the complete legal opinion here.

PR team

Digital Business
Data Privacy
Commerce & Trade
IT & Outsourcing
Automotive & New Mobility
Energy & Infrastructure
Life Sciences
Intellectual Property