BERLIN Germany wants to use its presidency of the Group of 20 major economies to promote fast internet for all, agree common technical standards and promote lifelong digital learning, Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries said.
Zypries' comments come ahead of a first meeting of G20 ministers responsible for digital policy later this week in Duesseldorf, ahead of a G20 summit chaired by Germany in July.
Germany wants the G20 to agree to a concrete plan, including rolling out fast internet across the globe by 2025.
"The message must be: we are working together to make the opportunities of the digital revolution usable for all and to regulate it through a framework of rules," Zypries said in emailed answers to questions from Reuters.
Zypries said Germany and Europe were in a good position to take a leading role in the development of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), in which regular objects are connected to networks to send and receive data.
By 2020, 21 billion IoT devices will be in use worldwide, up from fewer than 5 billion last year, research firm Gartner has estimated. However, experts argue that the lack of global standards is stopping the sector reach its full potential.
Zypries said she was not concerned that the U.S. government will not be represented at the minister level at the meeting in Germany, noting that the administration under new President Donald Trump was still filling hundreds of positions.
"In the end, it is not a matter of who is sitting at the table, but achieving a good and resilient result together," she said.
Zypries reiterated her concerns about growing U.S. protectionism, noting that U.S. companies such as Alphabet's Google, Facebook (FB.O) and Apple (AAPL.O) were leaders in digital products and services.
"They export their products and services very successfully in the world, also to Germany, and are reliant on free trade. The United States also needs our machines and products to build up American industry," she said.
(Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alison Williams)