Focus Topic #4: Education
Volt stands for a high-performance and opportunity-oriented education system.
This means for us:
We want all people in Europe to have equal access to high-quality education. Success in education must not depend on social background. All people should be able to shape their lives according to their own ideas and participate in democratic processes as responsible citizens.
All persons should be able to make the best of their own abilities. For this, we need more and better early childhood education. A new school structure that enables individual educational careers for all students. And structures for lifelong learning in which adults can develop their skills easily, continuously and holistically.
We need well-equipped schools with modern IT infrastructure and curricula that teach skills for life in a digital world. Because knowledge is quickly outdated, we need teachers who see themselves as learning guides and, above all, teach how to learn.
The federal and the regional (Länder) governments must cooperate more on education issues in a Federal Education Commission. It should initiate nationwide, evidence-based education policy reforms and also ensure that school-leaving qualifications are comparable across all Länder.
Living and learning everywhere in Europe - a uniform European quality framework for educational qualifications would make this even easier for pupils and students. We also want to see an expansion of the Erasmus programmes for apprentices and more Europe-wide comparability and opportunities in continuing vocational education and training.
Focus Topic #3: Climate
Volt stands for climate neutrality by 2035 in Germany and 2040 in Europe.
Our demands are:
We want an energy supply 100% from renewable sources as soon as possible.
- a phase-out of coal by 2030,
- creating incentives for the expansion of private photovoltaic systems,
- expanding wind power (e.g. by changing distance regulations),
- a decentralised electricity grid with optimisation for feed-in from smaller sources, and energy transfer within Germany,
- digitalisation of the electricity grid (smart grids) in order to manage generation, storage and consumption more flexibly,
- empowering municipalities and regional projects to meet basic energy needs locally,
- advancing research into storage technologies.
In January 2021, a CO2 price was introduced in Germany for the first time. However, this step can only be a beginning.
- an increase in the price on greenhouse gas emissions to drive the transformation,
- a meaningful and effective EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) in the long term,
- using the proceeds of the CO2 price in equal parts as direct repayment to citizens, for green subsidies and for investments in research and infrastructure
- abolishing climate-damaging subsidies or converting them into climate-friendly ones and making financial investments in fossil fuels unattractive,
- strengthening the circular economy (e.g. reduce VAT or make repairs tax-deductible) and implement incentives to avoid packaging and to use reusable packaging.
In the transport sector, CO2 emissions have not yet been reduced since 1990.
Volt wants to rethink transport and demands:
- Prioritising cycling and public transport in cities, also in urban planning. Not only do we need cleaner cars, we also need fewer cars on the roads. Inner cities with few cars are a goal.
- Railways as a central building block of the mobility turnaround. For long-distance transport, a Europe-wide high-speed network with uniform tariff systems is to be created. Local transport is to be made more attractive through cheaper fares and better connections, also in rural areas. Freight transport should be increasingly carried by rail.
- Abolish subsidies for air transport.
- Net zero emissions in transport by shipping until 2035.
Buildings cause about 30% of total emissions. There is still a lot of savings potential in this area.
Therefore we aim to:
- set nZEB standards (i.e. Near Zero Energy Building = building with high energy efficiency. Most of the energy required is generated from renewable sources) for all new buildings in the EU by 2030 and net zero emissions for all buildings (incl. existing buildings) by 2035,
- promote greening of flat roofs and facades,
- improve energy efficiency through better insulation, energy-saving appliances, incentives for behavioural change and the use of sustainable building materials.
In the agricultural sector, emissions have hardly decreased since 1991. The main factors are livestock farming and land use.
- a monetary or biological compensation of the burden on the ecosystem, caused by products and raw materials, based on their ecological footprint in production, processing and transport.
- minimising of the use of mineral fertilisers and instead promoting methods for the production, processing and use of biological fertilisers.
- promoting research into sustainable, resource-efficient and ethical alternatives to animal products.
- uniform sustainable agricultural standards across Europe
- the conservation and restoration of wetlands and peatlands as CO2 reservoirs.
Focus Topic #2: Digitisation
In the digital field, Volt stands for digital emancipation.
This means for us:
Citizens are the owners of their own data. The protection of private data must therefore be a top priority for public and private bodies. Even public data must not infringe or interfere with privacy.
Therefore we demand:
- Clear measures to protect the privacy of citizens whose data is collected on a large scale by both public authorities and private actors.
- The development of a European Digital Charter of Fundamental Rights as an overarching legal framework. In this way we want to create a binding international legal instrument for fair and data-safe regulation of the Internet in Europe, based on existing Internet regulation standards. Conversely, since generalised networking today enables citizens to participate fully in society, such regulation must also ensure individual and social participation in virtual space, including the right to access the Internet per se.
- All forms of stored data may only be collected and used in strict compliance with European standards and under the highest possible protection. Encryption is crucial to ensure digital privacy and must be encouraged. Citizens should never have to accept mass surveillance as the norm.
- Cyber-security and rights must be promoted and protected, including by combating cyber-attacks, organised crime, deception campaigns or media manipulation.
- Better networking of security authorities across Europe, respecting the highest standards of data protection.
Volt understands Open Public Data as data collected by public institutions and shared with the public. Open Public Data offers an ideal and effective way to strengthen the participation of citizens. Open Source also offers a wide range of opportunities that have hardly been exploited to date.
Therefore we demand:
- The improvement of the overall public availability and accessibility of public data.
- Increased use of free software (open source): Europe and Germany must put more emphasis on free software. In addition to independence from American software companies, proprietary systems offer great potential. Security gaps can be closed faster and more effectively and, in addition to government institutions, citizens and companies can participate in the development.
- The use and promotion of the development of open source software and hardware by government institutions. We see this as an effective way of breaking up the existing monopoly-like structures and making competition, innovation, data security and digital participation possible in a new way.
- The designation of open source as a criterion in public tenders.
- Investments and funding programmes that provide targeted support to companies and other developer groups that publish open source solutions.
Digitisation can significantly improve transparency and proximity to citizens.
Therefore we demand:
- Establishing a culture of open data to increase the transparency of government action (including in sensitive areas such as tax evasion or corruption).
- Explanation of administrative and governmental actions by making the underlying data available to all citizens in an easily understandable way, e.g. by regularly publishing "user-friendly" budget reports or the basis for decision-making in legislative procedures and administrative decisions.
- Introducing an easy-to-use digital platform for the calculation and payment of taxes.
- An Estonian-style citizen's card which will give people easy digital access to government offices, health services and public institutions (e.g. libraries).
- Introduction of a digital platform for communication with administrative authorities.
- Establishing a secure and effective digital infrastructure (fibre optic networks, public W-LAN), including in rural areas.
- Establishment of a pan-European digital discussion platform for all European citizens.
Digitisation is central to education, schools, and teaching and is not yet being sufficiently used.
Therefore we demand:
- Curricula that give high priority to the development of digital and technological skills, including significantly expanded learning opportunities on programming.
- The teaching of digital technology skills to all age groups. Online education must start at an early age and aim at lifelong learning and vocational training.
- Making better use of the opportunities offered by digitisation, including wider use of online courses or online universities.
- Ensure universal access to high performance Internet and modern technologies.
- Promote lifelong adult education programmes in the field of digital literacy, with a focus on job-related skills. In this way we want to open up new opportunities. At the same time, we want to take into account the psychological challenges of digital work.
Businesses and start-ups are dependent on a functioning European digital infrastructure in international competition.
Therefore we demand:
- Reducing red tape by creating a European digital one-stop shop for setting up businesses and all other administrative procedures. The administration sees its role in supporting the private sector.
- Digitisation and automation of accounting, tax returns and other interactions between the state and citizens.
- Promoting networking and knowledge transfer between start-ups and women entrepreneurs by establishing a European network of start-ups to exchange knowledge, investment and staff.
- Improving the availability and usability of data on the EU Open Data Portal, among others in the areas of mobility, smart cities, manufacturing and tourism, in order to promote data-based and pan-European business models.
- Promotion of a networked industry and production (Internet of Things), while further developing antitrust laws to prevent unilateral market power at an early stage.
- Improving the work-life balance by establishing distance working models.
The development of artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly. We must face the opportunities and risks associated with it.
Therefore we demand:
- Setting standards, regulations and guidelines to control the development of transformation technologies such as artificial intelligence.
- EU-wide investment in artificial intelligence research and development in order to catch up with China and the US.
- Stimulating private investment in AI development.
- The establishment of a high-level AI coordination office at European level.
- The development of a European "AI-on-demand" platform, given the importance of free access and availability of AI for society as a whole.
- The introduction of transparency standards for AI algorithms insofar as the decision making of citizens and consumers is directly affected. AI systems need to be tested in a secure environment, and precautionary measures need to be documented before they are released to the market. It must always be clear to users at what moment they are interacting with artificial intelligence systems.
- An AI system must remain controllable throughout its life cycle. It must be possible to explain and report questionable decisions of an algorithmic system or decisions affecting the rights of a data subject.
- The development of an EU common position banning autonomous weapons.
Focus Topic #1: Europe
Our Europe is democratic & transparent, solidary & social, sustainable & climate friendly.
Our main demands are:
For a more democratic Europe we want, among other things, a strengthened EU Parliament with its own right of initiative and an EU Commission proposed and elected by it. For a more comprehensible EU, we advocate a clearer division of competences and responsibilities between the EU and the Member States. For us, this can best be achieved in a federal form with a separate EU constitution.
We consider European solutions to be more sensible than national go-it-alone solutions. This applies to tax and social policy as well as to education and innovation policy or foreign and defence policy. We can only close tax loopholes together. Likewise, our schools, universities and research institutions are strongest together. On the world stage, too, we are only really taken seriously as a Community. Our Europe is mutually reinforcing.
The Corona pandemic is a challenge for us all. That is why solidarity among EU Member States is needed right now. We are committed to providing aid to the most affected regions and groups. The allocation of aid must be based on the criteria of sustainability, digitalisation and crisis resilience, and must not forget the younger generation in particular. For funding, we propose, for example, an EU minimum taxation for transnational corporations in the EU, which otherwise pay hardly any taxes.
We stand for a humane immigration and asylum policy. For us, this includes a fair, uniform immigration law throughout Europe with our own EU Asylum Agency. It should be possible to apply for asylum in the Union's external representations, so that asylum seekers do not have to put their lives in danger a second time when fleeing.
Climate-damaging emissions and environmental pollution do not stop at borders. We are therefore committed to a common climate policy. According to our ideas, this includes, among other things: The phase-out of coal by 2030, the achievement of net zero CO2e emissions by 2040, an EU-wide pricing of greenhouse gases via a reformed emissions trading system, an EU energy agency and a change in agricultural subsidies in favour of sustainable agriculture.
Europe is also a project of peace and friendship. For some time now, there has been no need for separate armies within Europe. Consequently, we are committed to a common army. Hardly anywhere else can so much money be saved that can be used more sensibly (e.g. for a European basic social security).