At CeBIT Global Conferences 2016 European Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger layed out his vision of a "European Digital Union". The foundation of this union has to be not only legal but also an infrastructural framework.
The Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society of the European Commission thinks that the European digital economy is far from being left behind by the United States and other major players. In many digital sectors European companies are leaders and have significant strengths compared with their international competitors, said Oettinger.
Standardization of digital silos
But to remain competitive, the "28 fragmented silos" of the EU countries have to be unified. "A European start-up today needs 28 lawyers to understand 28 privacy laws," Oettinger said. Regarding this fact it is understandable that founders would rather go to the US, where there is only one law for a comparable large market.
"For analogue goods we have created the largest marketplace in the world. Now we need to address the digital single market, "Oettinger said. Measures to get there have already been taken, such as the effort to adopt a European data protection law.
Europe needs to create a digital infrastructure
But legislation alone is not enough. Europe must work together to provide the necessary infrastructure. "We need a Gigabit infrastructure for a Gigabit economy," Oettinger said. This means integrating techniques like vectoring, fiberglass and 5G. Only then can the visions of self-propelled vehicles, e-medicine, e-government and e-learning be realized.
"We are in a race to catch up," Oettinger said and recalled that although there are no national border controls and a single currency, any traveler can tell by the dead spots in mobile reception when crossing a European border. It is time to overcome the borders originating from the time of Napoleon. At the same time, the EU's European neighbors are invited to participate.
Europe has the opportunity to become the market leader
Europe has a great opportunity to become the global leader in data protection and security.
"Our high standards will see to that"
The negotiations with the US in terms of "safe harbor" or "Privacy Shield" have shown that it is better to speak with one voice, than with 28. The goal is that European Data Protection Directives of US companies must comply with European law if they store and process the data of European citizens and companies.
Europe needs to be a team that could compete with digital competitors from the US and China. Oettinger therefore invited all representatives of the digital industry to participate.