EIF’s breakfast debate on 4 November 2009 hosted two speakers who presented their perspective on digital policy priorities for the European Union. Mr Ken Ducatel, Head of Unit - INFSO C1, Lisbon Strategy and i2010 of the European Commission; and Mr Ziga Turk, Secretary General of the Council Reflection Group on the Future of Europe.
Mr Ducatel was the first speaker and discussed some of the main priorities that the Commission is focussing on in the digital regulatory landscape; these are connectivity, services, the low carbon economy, and skills and employment.
In the area of connectivity, one of the aims is to guarantee 100% broadband connectivity in Europe by 2013. With regard to services, the Commission recognizes that Europe is failing to perform because the single market does not work flawlessly in a digital environment yet. The Commission is currently carrying out a large study to look at the entire ‘acquis’ to establish improvements in this area over time.
The Low carbon economy is another EU priority in which ICT can be of great value, not only by creating low carbon footprint hardware, but also by providing the software that is needed to measure carbon output and to help define standards in this area.
Mr Ducatel finished his speech by discussing e-learning and e-skills, areas that are underdeveloped in Europe. In his opinion, the available skill base in Europe needs to be repurposed to ensure that greater digital literacy is created.
The second speaker, Mr Ziga Turk, discussed the forthcoming report of the Council Reflection Group on the Future of Europe (on his own behalf). The main challenges for Europe according to Mr Turk can be summarized in a group of challenges called A, B, C, D, and E. The A stands for the Abundance of industrial and other cultural products, B refers to Bricks and signifies the process of globalization, C is the challenge of Climate change, D signifies Demography (maintaining quality of life and economic growth with a declining population) and E the Economic crisis we are in.
The 'sun' (renewable and green energies), the people and the European Union are the resources that we have to meet these challenges. According to Mr Turk we are underutilizing these resources. What is needed is a transition from a coal and steel union to one based on sun and bytes. The abundance economy is another and different challenge. The creativity of people should be used tackle this problem. By having leaders who empower others to go into this process together, Europe will stand a chance to meet the ‘digital’ challenges it is facing.
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