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Allowing Europe to take advantage of all the benefits technology offers

· September 27, 2019

Europeans have greatly benefited from technology, from Gutenberg’s printing press, to the invention of the combustion engine and electricity. Today’s transformation to a modern, digitally-enabled economy, is merely the next logical step.

One of the great challenges of the European Union’s new leadership is how to design smart policies that enable Europeans to take full advantage of all the benefits technology offers.

Digitisation is making Europe’s globally competitive

Europe’s economy is racing to modernise. There are for instance already 7,000 online platforms and marketplaces in Europe, many of which are European startups. European consumers have more choice than ever thanks to new online shopping, price comparison, communications, and video-on-demand services. More than one million EU businesses trade through online platforms. More than 50% of small and medium enterprises selling through online marketplaces, sell cross-borders. Traditional European industry firms are also trading digitally. Europe is in fact a leader in digitally-enabled trade. However, EU regulators can do more to encourage new online platforms to develop and scale-up in Europe.

Europe needs to embrace new technologies to solve our major societal challenges

New technologies can solve many of Europe’s emerging problems. Artificial Intelligence for instance, can predict certain diseases and monitor and diagnose the health of the elderly and disabled. While AI is not a silver bullet, it can be woven into numerous sectors and spur massive benefits. AI has the potential to add €2.7 trillion, or 19 percent, to Europe’s output by 2030 while also improving employment. It is essential that European regulators carefully consider the potential of AI and other emerging technologies, such as blockchain and autonomous driving, when making smart policy decisions for the future.

Ensure everyone can benefit from the opportunities technology creates

Europe has the potential to receive great benefits from the range of new tech opportunities. Despite its highly educated and entrepreneurial population only 10 percent of the world’s 185 “unicorns” are European. Policy-makers should carefully ensure that any new regulation doesn’t inadvertently hold back European startups and scaleups. Europe also has to address the skills shortage as there are hundred of thousands of unfilled vacancies for ICT professionals in Europe. Finally, Europe must prioritise the roll-out of high speed connectivity, including 5G.

Working together to solve new challenges

Transformative technologies obviously also raise new questions. Which country’s laws apply online? Who controls my data? What are my online rights? These are just some of the many legitimate questions that require our attention. The tech industry welcomes this discussion and we want to help find workable solutions. Sometimes the answer is regulation, sometimes industry action can be faster and more effective.

We look forward to working with the new EU leadership to design smart policy solutions to ensure that Europe can take full advantage of all the benefits technology offers. Let’s make Europe an innovative, competitive and attractive place to start a business, invest, and live!

European Union

DisCo is dedicated to examining technology and policy at a global scale.  Developments in the European Union play a considerable role in shaping both European and global technology markets.  EU regulations related to copyright, competition, privacy, innovation, and trade all affect the international development of technology and tech markets.