The European Parliament yesterday approved a new European Commission team which will take up office on November 1.
The digital portfolio will be split between a Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, and the Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society, Günther Oettinger. Their public hearings left many with the impression of a tech-savvy Estonian (Ansip) and a solid German politician (Oettinger). It remains to be seen whether this new institutional “yin-yang” set-up will result in a dynamic duo steering Europe towards digital leadership. The digital area is ripe for ambitious political leadership which dares to challenge the “second Europe” which outgoing Commissioner Kroes correctly characterizes as afraid of our digital future.
Embracing the Internet opportunity would help alleviate some of Europe’s biggest challenges:
– Boost EU productivity: European productivity has since 1995 fallen behind other regions but adoption and use of information technology can reverse this trend.
– Complete the EU Digital Single Market: Marginal cost are near zero for Internet companies. It is all about getting big fast. A digital single market could boost EU GDP with 4 percent and a transatlantic digital single market even further. Yet Member States continuously block or delay EU-wide rules to reduce barriers, e.g. on net neutrality.
– Enable data flows: European companies increasingly depend on data transfers to export abroad. Calls to limit data transfer frameworks could have a negative impact on EU GDP of up to -1.3%.
– Encourage digitalization of industry: Europe’s industry needs legislators’ help to embrace digital. Many are already disrupting and improving their business models rather than waiting and having someone else do it for them.
With a new EU leadership that is serious about job creation, growth, and competitiveness, embracing the Internet opportunity is the best place to start.