Digital business is Europe’s best hope to get back to growth

Hearing at the European Parliament of Andrus Ansip, Vice-President designate of the EC, in charge of Digital Single Market. Mr Ansip is trying to listen and understand the translation of the parlamanterian's comments and worries. Hopefully he will make it.

Hearing at the European Parliament of Andrus Ansip, Vice-President designate of the EC, in charge of Digital Single Market. Mr Ansip is trying to listen and understand the translation of the parlamanterian’s comments and worries. Hopefully he will make it. (EC Audiovisual Services, 06/10/2014)

Digital market has received a lot of interest lately in Europe. Not only by the market players that have always lobbied more favourable or less regulation in general, but most importantly by the EU leadership.

New Commissioner, new priorities

Jean Claude Juncker, new President of the European Commission, seems to have ‘bet all his money’ on digital market. In his famous “priorities”, while he sets the return to growth and reduction of unemployment his primordial scope, he underlines that “the key ingredient is to create a digital single market for consumers and businesses-making use of the great opportunities of digital technologies which know no borders. To do so, we will need to have the courage to break down national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in competition law.” Most importantly he states that “we can generate 500 billion Euro of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the next Commission, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs and a vibrant knowledge-based society. I will work on this from day one of being Commission President”.

If the President of the European Commission, claims as the top priority of his work, the liberalisation of the digital single market, that will bring half a trillion to the EU coffers in five years, this means basically two things: either he is too desperate or he knows very well the digital industry. Indeed digital business full potential is the most unexplored one in the Old Continent and the single market would unleash to a great extent this potential. However, from that point to the promise of generating a 500 billion business and hundreds of thousands of jobs, there is still a distance.

Why digital is our greatest hope

If someone reads all 5 priorities of Mr Juncker and pays attention to the ranking of importance, then she is able to understand more. Having as number 2 priority the “Energy Union”, number 3 TTIP, number 4 the monetary union, and number 5 the “answer to the British question”, one can justify why digital market is the only hope we have in Europe. The reason is ‘fourfold’:

1) The Energy Union is an important but rather ambitious project that most probably needs more than one Commission mandate to materialise.

2) TTIP is a massive trade agreement with the USA that would be completed in 2016/2017 and even though one can imagine a lot of exports and imports and thus business, nobody can really estimate at this point the true impact, positive and negative, it will have in our lives in Europe.

3) Monetary Union is indeed a too important topic always, but let’s face it there is so much written about it during the Barroso Commission and the dawn of the economic crisis that it just isn’t that sexy enough anymore for the EU citizen.

4) As for the “answer to the British question”, that should not be a top priority of any Commissioner. The answer to that question will be given next May in the UK by its citizens and not by Mr Juncker. Already most British businessmen with international horizons have an answer to it and it is a clear NO. In any case, the money the EU is looking for to get out of trouble is definitely not hidden behind the answer to this “question”.

Apparently the only priority that is pragmatic and result oriented is the first one, digital market, and this explains its ranking. That together with the fact that it is ‘trendy’ but also because the single digital market is a topic that the leaving Commissioner Kroes has already prepared the ground for generating substantial debates in the past years mostly with the side of the industry. Earlier this month in one of her last direct confrontations with the telecom sector, she said very openly that telecommunication companies have two options towards the new policy regulations to come: “adapt or die”.

Preparing the ground

Mrs Kroes, has always been supportive of a digital single market in the EU but did not omit to challenge every single time the players of the telecommunication industry on issues like the elimination of roaming charges in the EU or net neutrality. During a Brussels conference organised by ETNO, the powerful lobby group of operators like Deutsche Telekom, she addressed the following messages to telcos: “you can’t have consolidation on national markets without having a single regulatory framework contributing to a genuine single market.” Then she continued: “it’s all very well to talk about deregulation, but not if that’s a code word for keeping protected national markets”. Finally, she concluded  “the telecoms sector is its own worst enemy”, emphasising on how the sector resists strongly the proposed regulations to open up the market.

Seeing this fertile ground for digital business and growth Mr Juncker will have this time two and not one Commissioners replacing Mrs Kroes. Mr Gunther Oettinger, former Energy Commissioner, will be now Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society and Mr Andrus Ansip, former prime minister of Estonia, will be in charge of the Digital Internal Market. Obviously two is better than one. Indeed, Commissioner Juncker wanted an extra team of people to deal only with the digital single market per se to speed things up effectively. Time will judge the effectiveness of his strategic decision.

Bend it like Estonia

Apparently the choice of the former prime minister of Estonia was not random. Estonia has the reputation of being a role model of digital transformation and Mr Ansip knows better how this happened. As the ex prime minister said to the ‘Parlamentarians’ during the hearings, : “I had the opportunity to be at the forefront of a digital transformation of a country, which today excels in multiple areas of e-government, safe and secure private and public digital solutions, and which takes cyber security and data protection seriously.”

Further BBC wrote a story last year titled : “How Estonia became E-stonia”. What is more, even the American President Obama, when he visited the country said “I should have contacted the Estonians when we were setting up our healthcare website.” That on its own is quite a statement. Estonia is not only famous for its super-developed e-government and bullet-proof cyber-securityprotection. Instead, it is seen as a start-up nation, because it is one of the top EU countries with the most new businesses per capita (source World Bank).

One last digital chance

All in all, digital is what we trust and count on to make Europe grow to 2020 safe and big. It is the sector of the economy where there is room for a lot of innovation and also less regulation but more competition. It seems that the new Commission is getting ready for it because simply there is no space for delays or failure.

Our best card currently is digital and I am afraid, if we lose it, we lose the game too.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

OECD economic scenarios to 2060 illustrate the long-run benefits of structural reforms

Cybersecurity needs a holistic approach. Here are three ways to build protection

UN forum to bring ‘big space data’ benefits to disaster response in Africa

Schengen is losing ground fast revealing Europe’s clear inability to deal with migration crisis

Reception conditions for asylum-seekers agreed between MEPs and Council

Zuckerberg, a paella, and the mighty EU questionnaires that would stop Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook?

How India will consume in 2030: 10 mega trends

Bankers don’t go to jail because they are more equal than us all

US – Russia bargain on Syria, Ukraine but EU kept out

Mobile 360 Series – Russia & CIS: Empowering the Digital Economy

Action needed to end deadly clashes between African herders and farmers: UN chief

The time for cities to get smart is now

The missiles fired against Damascus, Syria divided Europe deeply

Youth Internationalization: part of everyday life in JADE

Germany to help China in trade disputes with Brussels

Germany is the world’s most innovative economy

4 steps towards wiping out cervical cancer

UN chief ‘following very closely’ reports of chemical weapons use in Syria’s Aleppo

5 ways blockchain can transform the world of impact investing

We could be sleepwalking into a new crisis. How should the business world prepare?

Donald Trump’s victory is a great opening for global EU leadership on the sustainability agenda

UN calls for support to implement Central Africa’s newly minted peace agreement

German opposition win in Lower Saxony felt all over Europe

Germany loses leading export place

EU agricultural production no more a self-sufficiency anchor

MEPs back plans to halt spread of drug resistance from animals to humans

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

Britain heading to national schism on exit from EU

Vaccine hesitancy: a pregnancy related issue?

EU deal on electricity market rules to benefit both consumers and environment

FROM THE FIELD: South Sudan’s green shoots, highlight environmental recovery from war

ECB: Growth measures even before the German elections

More women than ever before are running for political office in the US

The European Union’s Balkan Double Standard

The “Legend of the Sun” wishes you Happy Chinese New Year 2015 from Brussels

Social entrepreneurs can change the world – but these 6 things are holding us back

Migration crisis update: Greece could probably say goodbye to Schengen really soon

Innovation is the key to the pay-TV industry’s long-term growth

Bureaucracy in the member states again the obstacle for long due strong European Hedge Funds

EU car manufacturers worry about an FTA with Japan

Why Eurozone needs a bit more inflation

Chart of the day: These are the cities where the World Cup threatens productivity the most

Crimea, a wicked game of political chess and a ‘big’ coincidence

Art has the power to change the world, says this renowned Iranian muralist

Infinite Oath

G7 summit: Trump Vs. G6 leaders on trade and climate change

Who really cares about the 26.2 million of EU jobless?

Euro celebrates its 20th birthday

World cannot be transformed without ‘ingenuity of the countries of the South’: UN Chief

Making the most of the Sustainable Development Goal 3: its overlooked role in medical education

ECB reaches the boundaries of its mandate to revive the entirety of Eurozone

South Sudan’s women caught up in ‘futile man’s war’ UN gender equality chief

Japan initiates WTO dispute complaint against Korean duties on steel

Fear casts again a cold, ugly shadow over Europe; Turkey sides with Russia

Is there a drug for every disease?

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change-the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, yet overlooked in climate negotiations?” IFMSA wonders from COP21 in Paris

Parliament backs a modernised EU electoral law

Bitpay @ TheNextWeb 2014: Innovation’s Best Friend

Basel III rules relaxed: Banks got it all but become more prone to crisis

What will it take for the world’s third-largest economy to empower women?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s