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Digital economy

Telecoms operators call for 'fresh and progressive' ICT public policy to boost economy, jobs and social welfare in Europe

EU Reporter Correspondent

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dhv2At this week’s Digital Venice 2014, the GSMA and leading European telecoms operators presented a statement to Prime Minister of Italy and President of the Council of the European Union Matteo Renzi at a high-level round table organized with Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, and leading industry CEOs.

With the new Italian EU Presidency providing a sharpened focus on Europe’s digital opportunity, the statement called for a new ICT public policy that supports Europe in catching up with, and potentially overtaking, the other industrial regions in the ICT challenge, stimulating economic growth, job creation and improving social welfare throughout the region.

Below is the text of the joint statement, which is supported by the following CEOs of European telecoms operators:

  • Timotheus Höttges, CEO, Deutsche Telekom AG
  • Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO, Orange
  • Marco Patuano, CEO, Telecom Italia
  • César Alierta, Executive Chairman and CEO, Telefónica
  • Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO, Telenor Group and Chairman, GSMA Board
  • Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone Group

Digital Venice 2014: Making the right connections between industry and policy to deliver a better Europe

Europe is facing an unprecedented economic crisis. Member states of the Union are struggling to boost employment by means of complex economic policies. Identifying a robust path to growth is undoubtedly the most important current policy goal. To this end European firms need to vigorously compete in both the domestic and foreign markets and technological innovation is key. The ICT industry represents an essential pillar and opportunity for growth. The majority of the most radical technological innovations are in fact delivered by the ICT industry.

By providing fast, reliable, secure and intelligent connectivity the Communications Industry is an essential part of how every company in Europe, small or large, does business. It can provide the foundations for a new wave of economic growth, job creation and improving social welfare in Europe.

Europe, historically a pioneer in the communications industry, is now lagging behind the US and Asia in the deployment of new communications infrastructure. This gap does not reflect a lack of willingness to invest. It reflects differences in policy frameworks and industry structures which in other regions have been, and continue to be, more conducive to the infrastructure investments needed to support the next wave of economic growth.

Europe needs a New Digital Agenda to catch up and possibly leapfrog the other industrial regions in the ICT challenge. The success of Europe in this technological competition will entail a powerful stimulus to economic growth and job creation.

To this end, a new ICT public policy is urgently required with the following main goals.
Promoting ICT infrastructures

  1. The EU should support the development of modern digital infrastructures by ensuring a simplified, digital-friendly, pro-investment regulatory framework ensuring a fair long-term return on investments in new infrastructure.A review of the European regulatory framework is the appropriate tool for addressing such an essential goal.
  1. Achievement of the 2020 Digital Agenda targets requires both private and public investment. Whilst operators are increasing investment levels across the EU there will inevitably be cases of market failure. These should be addressed by means of appropriate public funding to avoid the emergence of a new digital divide. But private investments should not be crowded out by competition from public projects.
  1. The EU should support and promote the on-going reallocation of radio spectrum to the communications industry so that operators can continue to meet consumer and business needs for faster connection speeds and greater capacity. This process needs to be co-ordinated at the European level. Policies recently supported by the Commission and the Parliament concerning spectrum licencing provide the right answers to these issues. There is also a need to ensure award processes are not structured to extract excessive payment for spectrum as this has a direct impact on the financial capacity to invest in infrastructure.
  1. The EU should support a new interpretation and application of merger regulation and guidelines to reflect the rapidly changing environment, characterised by strong growth in data consumption and new sources of Internet-based competition. Consolidation in the European telecoms market, along with reasonable safeguard measures, can provide a boost to investment, support job creation and deliver innovative services without any adverse impact on competition.
  1. The EU needs to support a level playing field of regulation between the Communications and Internet industries. The European Communications Industry needs greater freedom to compete on equal terms with the Internet industry. At the same time, internet players should be subject to the same rules.

Ensuring digital citizenship

  1. Digitalization of the Public Administration will be a critical catalyst for the spread of ICT in Europe. Telecom operators are ready to participate in ambitious projects for the timely digitalization of public administration, schools and health care.
  1. Fast broadband networks and the transition to full IP will allow an array of new and innovative services. In order to support the availability of customized services differentiated on the basis of quality and price a balanced approach to open internet regulation is required, based on general principles rather than detailed, prescriptive and restrictive rules.
  1. European citizens need to retain control of their 'digital life'.  The EU needs to address any bottlenecks that persist due to a lack of interoperability and/or portability of personal data, content and applications when switching between platforms or providers. An open and transparent framework, concerning both telecommunications operators and Internet companies must be put in place.
  1. A co-ordinated approach to data privacy and digital security is needed to help build trust and confidence in the uptake and use of new digital services by EU citizens and provide them with effective and consistent protection across the digital value chain. These high standards of data protection and security must be harmonised across Europe and made applicable to companies based outside the region. The Communications Industry can provide fit for purpose new digital identity services such as the GSMA Mobile Connect service, which offers broad interoperability across operators and service providers.
  1. The EU needs to address the systematic encryption of data traffic by internet players as this threatens to distort the level playing field for competition and compromise the co-ordinated fight against cybercrime.

Stimulating job creation

  1. Telecoms operators in Europe represent one of the driving forces of the European economy; they employ millions of people. The EU should support the creation of policy frameworks that encourage telecom operator investments in ICT that, in the order of tens of billions of euro each year, can represent a boost for the European economy in the next five years, supporting both direct and indirect employment.
  1. The EU should support welfare policies that promote the qualitative change in skills required in the labour market. This re-tooling of the European labour market is essential if the region is to regain a position of leadership in the Digital Economy and maximize the potential impact on growth and development.
  1. European institutions must ensure that a stronger innovation ecosystem can develop in Europe. Public policy should favour all mechanisms useful to amplify economic returns from ICT research investments: improving the business environment, encouraging entrepreneurial attitudes, supporting training in young and small enterprises, improving access to debt and equity finance when necessary, and promoting innovation and internationalization activities of new and small firms.
  1. Europe needs a reinvigorated stimulus to the European Digital Service Start-up Eco-systems. This programme should be rationalized and focused on a smaller number of excellence programmes, more specialized on internet economy and with a pan-European scope.

Europe must play a key role in shaping the future of global internet governance.  The internet needs to be governed by a coherent set of principles shared by all stakeholders. The current multi-stakeholder model, based on the balanced participation of different stakeholders such as governments, private sector and civil society, needs to be substantially strengthened.  Globalizing key decision-making (for example the co-ordination of domain names and IP addresses) is key to safeguarding the stability, security and resilience of the internet. This process should be achieved by establishing a clear timeline for the globalization of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions.

Digital economy

Europe's Digital Decade: Commission launches consultation and discussion on EU digital principles

EU Reporter Correspondent

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As a follow-up to its Digital Decade Communication of 9 March, the Commission is launching a public consultation on the formulation of a set of principles to promote and uphold EU values in the digital space. A Europe fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “A fair and secure digital environment that offers opportunities for all. That is our commitment. The digital principles will guide this European human-centred approach to digital and should be the reference for future action in all areas. That's why we want to hear from EU citizens.” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “This is Europe's Digital Decade and everyone should be empowered to benefit from digital solutions to connect, explore, work and fulfil one's ambitions, online as offline. We want to set together the digital principles on which a resilient digital economy and society will be built.”

The consultation, open until 2 September, seeks to open a wide societal debate and gather views from citizens, non-governmental and civil society organizations, businesses, administrations and all interested parties. These principles will guide the EU and membersStates in designing digital rules and regulations that deliver the benefits of digitalisation for all citizens. The contributions to the public consultation will feed into a proposal from the Commission for a joint inter-institutional declaration on Digital Principles of the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission. The proposal is expected by the end of 2021. A press release is available online.

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Digital economy

Digital transformation: Importance, benefits and EU policy

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Learn how the EU is helping to shape a digital transformation in Europe to benefit people, companies and the environment. The digital transformation is one of the EU's priorities. The European Parliament is helping to shape the policies that will strengthen Europe's capacities in new digital technologies, open new opportunities for businesses and consumers, support the EU's green transition and help it to reach climate neutrality by 2050, support people's digital skills and training for workers, and help digitalize public services, while ensuring the respect of basic rights and values, Society .

MEPs are preparing to vote on a report on shaping the digital future of Europe, calling on the Europea Commission to further tackle challenges posed by the digital transition, especially to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital single market and to improve the use of artificial intelligence. What is digital transformation? 

  • Digital transformation is the integration of digital technologies by companies and the impact of the technologies on society.  
  • Digital platforms, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are among the technologies affecting ... 
  • ... sectors from transport to energy, agri-food, telecommunications, financial services, factory production and health care, and transforming people's lives. 
  • Technologies could help to optimise production, reduce emissions and waste, boost companies' competitive advantages and bring new services and products to consumers. 

Funding of the EU's digital priorities

Digital plays an essential role in all EU policies. The Covid crisis accentuated the need for a response that will benefit society and competitiveness in the long run. Digital solutions present important opportunities and are essential to ensuring Europe's recovery and competitive position in the global economy.

The EU's plan for economic recovery demands that member states allocate at least 20% of the €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility to digital transition. Investment programmes such as the research and innovation-centred Horizon Europe and infrastructure-centred Connecting Europe Facility allocate substantial amounts for digital advancements as well.

While the general EU policy is to endorse digital goals through all programmes, some investment programmes and new rules specifically aim to achieve them.

Digital Europe programme

In April 2021, Parliament adopted the Digital Europe programme, the EU’s first financial instrument focused specifically on bringing technology to businesses and people. It aims to invest in digital infrastructure so that strategic technologies can help boost Europe’s competitiveness and green transition, as well as ensure technological sovereignty. It will invest €7.6bn in five areas: supercomputing (€2.2bn), arfitifical intelligence (€2.1bn), cybersecurity (€1.6bn), advanced digital skills (€0.6bn), and ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society (€1.1bn).

Online safety and platform economy

Online platforms are an important part of the economy and people's lives. They present significant opportunities as marketplaces and are important communication channels. However, there also pose significant challenges.

The EU is working on new digital services legislation, aiming to foster competitiveness, innovation and growth, while boosting online security, tackling illegal content, and ensuring the protection of free speech, press freedom and democracy.

Read more on why and how the EU wants to regulate the platform economy.

Among measures to ensure safety online, the Parliament adopted new rules to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online in April 2021. MEPs are also considering rules on a new European cybersecurity centre.

Artificial intelligence and data strategy

Artificial intelligence (AI) could benefit people by imroving health care, making cars safer and  enabling tailored services. It can improve production processes and bring a competitive advantage to European businesses, including in sectors where EU companies already enjoy strong positions, such as the green and circular economy, machinery, farming and tourism.

To ensure Europe makes the most of AI's potential, MEPs have accentuated the need for human-centric AI legislation, aimed at establishing a framework that will be trustworthy, can implement ethical standards, support jobs, help build competitive “AI made in Europe” and influence global standards. The Commission presented its proposal for AI regulation on 21 April 2021.

Read more on how MEPs want to regulate artificial intelligence.

The success of AI development in Europe ilargely depends on a successful European data strategy. Parliament has stressed the potential of industrial and public data for EU companies and researchers and called for European data spaces, big data infrastructure and legislation that will contribute to trustworthiness.

More on what Parliament wants for the European data strategy.

Digital skills and education

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important digital skills are for work and interactions, but has also accentuated the digital skills gap and the need to increase digital education. The Parliament wants the European skills agenda to ensure people and businesses can take full advantage of technological advancements.

42% of EU citizens lack basic digital skil

Fair taxation of the digital economy

Most tax rules were established well before the digital economy existed. To reduce tax avoidance and make taxes fairer, MEPs are calling for a global minimum tax rate and new taxation rights that would allow more taxes to be paid where value is created and not where tax rates are lowest.

Other interesting articles to check out

More on Europe's digital policies 

Continue Reading

Digital economy

Digital transformation: Importance, benefits and EU policy

EU Reporter Correspondent

Published

on

Learn how the EU is helping to shape a digital transformation in Europe to benefit people, companies and the environment.

The digital transformation is one of the EU's priorities. The European Parliament is helping to shape the policies that will strengthen Europe's capacities in new digital technologies, open new opportunities for businesses and consumers, support the EU's green transition and help it to reach climate neutrality by 2050, support people's digital skills and training for workers, and help digitalise public services, while ensuring the respect of basic rights and values.

MEPs are preparing to vote on a report on shaping the digital future of Europe, calling on the Europea Commission to further tackle challenges posed by the digital transition, especially to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital single market and to improve the use of artificial intelligence. What is digital transformation? 

  • Digital transformation is the integration of digital technologies by companies and the impact of the technologies on society.  
  • Digital platforms, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are among the technologies affecting ... 
  • ... sectors from transport to energy, agri-food, telecommunications, financial services, factory production and health care, and transforming people's lives. 
  • Technologies could help to optimise production, reduce emissions and waste, boost companies' competitive advantages and bring new services and products to consumers. 

Funding of the EU's digital priorities

Digital plays an essential role in all EU policies. The Covid crisis accentuated the need for a response that will benefit society and competitiveness in the long run. Digital solutions present important opportunities and are essential to ensuring Europe's recovery and competitive position in the global economy.

The EU's plan for economic recovery demands that member states allocate at least 20% of the €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility to digital transition. Investment programmes such as the research and innovation-centred Horizon Europe and infrastructure-centred Connecting Europe Facility allocate substantial amounts for digital advancements as well.

While the general EU policy is to endorse digital goals through all programmes, some investment programmes and new rules specifically aim to achieve them.

Digital Europe programme

MEPs are set to vote in April on the Digital Europe programme, the EU’s first financial instrument focused specifically on bringing technology to businesses and people. It aims to invest in digital infrastructure so that strategic technologies can help boost Europe’s competitiveness and green transition, as well as ensure technological sovereignty. It will invest €7.5 billion in five areas: supercomputing (€2.2 billion), artificial intelligence (€2 billion), cybersecurity (€1.6 billion), advanced digital skills (€577 million), and ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society (€1 billion).

Online safety and platform economy

Online platforms are an important part of the economy and people's lives. They present significant opportunities as marketplaces and are important communication channels. However, there also pose significant challenges.

The EU is working on new digital services legislation, aiming to foster competitiveness, innovation and growth, while boosting online security, tackling illegal content, and ensuring the protection of free speech, press freedom and democracy.

Read more on why and how the EU wants to regulate the platform economy.

Among measures to ensure safety online, the Parliament is voting on new rules to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online in April. MEPs are also considering rules on a new European cybersecurity centre.

Artificial intelligence and data strategy

Artificial intelligence (AI) could benefit people by imroving health care, making cars safer and  enabling tailored services. It can improve production processes and bring a competitive advantage to European businesses, including in sectors where EU companies already enjoy strong positions, such as the green and circular economy, machinery, farming and tourism.

To ensure Europe makes the most of AI's potential, MEPs have accentuated the need for human-centric AI legislation, aimed at establishing a framework that will be trustworthy, can implement ethical standards, support jobs, help build competitive “AI made in Europe” and influence global standards. The Commission presented its proposal for AI regulation on 21 April 2021.

Read more on how MEPs want to regulate artificial intelligence.

The success of AI development in Europe ilargely depends on a successful European data strategy. Parliament has stressed the potential of industrial and public data for EU companies and researchers and called for European data spaces, big data infrastructure and legislation that will contribute to trustworthiness.

More on what Parliament wants for the European data strategy.

Digital skills and education

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important digital skills are for work and interactions, but has also accentuated the digital skills gap and the need to increase digital education. The Parliament wants the European skills agenda to ensure people and businesses can take full advantage of technological advancements.

42% of EU citizens lack basic digital skill

Other interesting articles to check out

More on Europe's digital policies 

Continue Reading

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