From Helsinki to Frankfurt in 20 milliseconds? No problem! Since March 2016, that is how quickly information has been passing through the C-Lion1 data cable laid by the Finnish Cinia Group on the Baltic sea-bed. Over the course of 93 days, a special ship was underway to lay the 1172-kilometre long submarine cable as a direct link between Helsinki and Rostock. On 15 December 2015, technicians pulled the end of the cable on land at the popular Warnemünde beach in Rostock. Since then, Germany and Finland have been physically connected to each other. The information travels along this digital highway at up to 144 terabits per second through eight fibre optic pairs. The project was financed by Finnish and German partners, including the German data-centre specialist Hetzner Online. Thanks to cool climatic conditions, low electricity costs and a sufficient supply of experts, Finland is increasingly establishing itself as a base for huge data storage units and centres. Due to the fibre optic cable in the Baltic Sea, they are connected to continental Europe and the data hub in Frankfurt virtually in real time.
German-Finnish digital transformation partnership
However, the digital cooperation between Germany and Finland goes far beyond this first direct fibre optic link between northern and western Europe. The Industrie 4.0 partnership programme launched by the German and Finnish Governments in 2017 is intended to further facilitate cooperation between German companies and Finnish digitalisation experts. It is the first programme of the German-Finnish digital transformation partnership, which is being headed by – among others – the German-Finnish Chamber of Industry and Commerce with more than 600 member companies in Germany and Finland together with Technology Industries of Finland. This programme brings together Finnish pioneers of digital technology with the German manufacturing industry, thus benefiting both sides.
The digital transformation as a focus of the EU Council Presidency
During its current EU Council Presidency, Finland has made the digital transformation one of its priorities. Europe’s goal, according to the Finnish programme, must be to become the leading global force in the digital sector. Finland wants to make the European service sector fit for the future as a basis for a successful digital economy as well as innovations and new technologies.
Germany, too, is focusing on the digital transformation in its plans for its EU Council Presidency from July 2020: the German Government wants the European single market to be more geared towards the digital transformation. For that Europe needs a digital policy which promotes innovation and investment while ensuring that the right to informational self-determination is protected. The EU’s recently adopted strategic agenda states: “We need to ensure that Europe is digitally sovereign and obtains its fair share of the benefits of this development. (...) To this end, the EU must work on all aspects of the digital revolution and artificial intelligence: infrastructure, connectivity, services, data, regulation and investment.”
The C-Lion data highway thus symbolises a key issue, both for German-Finnish bilateral relations and for their respective EU Council Presidencies and the EU’s strategic agenda: those who link up quickly both digitally and physically can strengthen each other and lay the foundation in Europe for prosperity in the future.