AUs of the time when the FDP politician Philipp Rösler was Federal Minister of Economics, not much is remembered. However, one of his official acts from 2013 is attracting undreamt-of attention: the establishment of the “Young Digital Economy” advisory board, which is supposed to advise the Federal Ministry of Economics on digital issues. This advisory board did not attract much attention for a long time, but that has now changed suddenly. In a list of demands, three members of the committee have outlined what they believe politicians should do to encourage young companies to go public. These are suggestions that suggest that the basic democratic understanding of some founders can still be expanded.
Specifically, it calls for “ensuring balanced reporting on IPOs by issuing rules to avoid unilaterally defamatory articles that have spread among financial editors as regular IPO and new economy bashing”. In order to ensure this goal, the authors bring the “obligation of the press to report on small IPOs (otherwise the big media will fall through the cracks)” into play. This is followed by the request to “discipline the press to provide factual, correct and complete information, reinforced by the obligation to immediately reply in the event of misinformation”.
The fact that the position papers of the committee do not seem to have a particularly high priority in the ministry was shown on Monday evening by the reaction of Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU), when the paper, published in April after a report by the Handelsblatt on the short message service Twitter, caused a sensation. “The position paper (…) was just as unknown to me as its publication on the homepage,” wrote Altmaier. He ordered the paper to be removed immediately. In fact, only an error message appeared on Tuesday under the corresponding link.
The Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) welcomed Altmaier’s reaction. The advisory board itself is now trying to limit the damage. In a statement he writes: Freedom of the press is “a fundamental right. Of course, this also applies to reporting on IPOs. We apologize for the fact that our position paper gave a different impression. ”The paragraphs formulated there would not correspond to the position of the advisory board. “We distance ourselves from it clearly.”
The author of the position paper is the founder of the erotic start-up Amorelie Lea-Sophie Cramer, the managing director of the SGT German Private Equity Christoph Gerlinger and the managing director of the high-tech start-up fund (HTGF) Alex von Frankenberg. The fact that the latter, of all people, was involved should not be well received by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The high-tech start-up fund is one of the federal government’s flagship projects in the context of start-up funding. It is fed by both public funds and the money of private investors. The Young Digital Economy Advisory Board has a total of 29 members.
Two of the three named authors also keep their distance from the paper. Amorelie founder Cramer, who left the start-up in 2019, said the formulations would “in no way” reflect her own or that of the advisory board or the start-up scene as a whole. “Here, individuals have overshot the mark in a way that is unacceptable.” She was unable to attend the last meeting of the advisory board and was not involved in the development of the paper. “Such an omission must not occur with such important topics, which include my name at the end.” Alex von Frankenberg expressed himself similarly: “I, too, should have personally checked the position paper again before it was published. I’m sorry I missed it. “
Apparently the controversial formulations go back mainly to Christoph Gerlinger. He can be quoted as follows in the opinion of the Advisory Board: “I would like to apologize to all journalists for this, I regret it very much and I take responsibility for the fact that an inappropriate and ambiguous formulation by me from an early partial concept of the position paper was due to a technical error has landed in the final, published version. He offered the minister his resignation from the advisory board.
Altmaier accepted the resignation offer on Tuesday afternoon after a conversation with Gerlinger. “Freedom of the press is an outstanding fundamental right that we are all obliged to protect,” said the minister. “We have to act with this common understanding.”
Cramer told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that she intends to “continue to be a member of the advisory board”.
“Switching to a more agile way of working”
In its statement, the advisory board justified the incident with the introduction of new management methods. “As a result of the switch to a more agile way of working, the decision-making processes within the advisory board have changed significantly over the past few months. Important checks and balances, which are fundamental for such work, have not taken place sufficiently at this moment. ”The internal processes will now be checked and“ in close coordination with the Federal Ministry of Economics ”.
The waves in the social networks only partially smoothed the excuses. The mere fact that the controversial formulations restricting the freedom of the press made it into a first version of the paper continues to cause astonishment.