Keynote. Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society, European Commission – 2016

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9 June 2016 | 14:00-14:30
Programme overview 2016

Video record

See the video record in our youtube channel


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This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

>> EMILY TAYLOR: Ladies and gentlemen, just giving you a brief update. Commissioner Oettinger is running a little bit late. We’re expecting him any second. As soon as he arrives, he’ll be straight up here talking to you, and then we’ll go on to the remotes by Ross LeJeunesse from Google and the Panel Session on Internet of Things. So thank you for your patience. It’s all under control.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for attending this afternoon. And I’m delighted to welcome straight from the airplane, after a trip all the way across Europe to come and speak to us today, Commissioner Günther Oettinger, originally a lawyer and CEO of an audit tax consultancy, and has from 2010 been an EU Commissioner first of all for Energy, and moving to his most recent role in 2014. Commissioner Oettinger, welcome to EuroDIG, and thank you. Please take to the stage.


>> COMMISSIONER OETTINGER: The Secretary General sends [ Inaudible ]. Colleagues, guests, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great pleasure to be at the European Dialogue on Internet Governance, EuroDIG here in Brussels at the heart of our European Union. It’s a great opportunity for us as European policymakers, particularly dealing with or in our European Union institutions to participate in this multistakeholder exchange with industry, Civil Society, Government, international organisations and technical community, and I hope it’s equally useful for all of you.

Mainly today, as NTIA has just published its report looking to the multistakeholder proposal for the IANA transition. I think an important step for our common goal is agreed between our American partners and our global colleagues last month.

Our meeting here is very timely because it is the first EuroDIG to feed into the Internet Governance Forum and its extended 10 year mandate and it’s also timely as here in Brussels we have been delivering on important policy elements of our digital single market strategy.

A stable, secure, and robust Internet is essential for building the digital single market in Europe, and ensuring that the Internet is governed well, both now and in the future. It’s more and more important, not just the technical community, industry, or Civil Society, by also to policymakers.

The multistakeholder model of Internet Governance has had to ensure that it is an innovative and dynamic source of growth in the digital economy, and we want to see that developed even further both now and in the future and that is why the European Commission is committed to working together with all stakeholders in the shared governance of the Internet based on clear, fair, and transparent rules. We are committed to making sure the Internet remains global, open, and free, where individuals enjoy the same rights they have offline and have the same degree of protection.

It is about ensuring a safer Internet that citizens can trust.

Ladies and gentlemen, trust is indeed key to realizing the full potential of the digital era. It is in this spirit that in Europe, we are prioritizing privacy and data security within our digital single market strategy. It is fair to say that the Internet is transforming practically every aspect of our lives.

In an ever more complex world, everyone appreciates apps and services that make our life easier. In a data driven economy, the competitiveness and productivity of companies depends on the widespread use of data services, enabled by technologies such as cloud computing. New technologies demand more and more features and functionality from increasingly complex services that cannot be delivered by a single provider located in a single territory.

The Internet provides a way to deliver services across several territories. At the same time via the most efficient route possible. For example, navigation services for connected cars and autonomous driving may not be located in the same territory where the vehicle is driving.

The free flow of data is a sine qua non for reaping the benefits of technologies and services in the near future. At the same time, individuals are facing serious challenges in trying to keep track of their digital trail, let alone understanding how their data is processed, or where it is stored and what the implications are.

There’s a linear relationship between Transnational Data Flows and between users’ trust. And this is why the Commission is developing a data initiative within our digital single market strategy. It will be put forward by the end of this year. This initiative will tackle restrictions on the free movement of data, including technical and legal barriers to the location of data.

Without the free flow of data across the Internet, we would not be able to use online services that we enjoy today, and will not be able to use technologies of the future that could accelerate the data economy in Europe. And justified restrictions should not be required that allow data to be stored or possessed inside one EU territory. This would force companies to invest in duplicate data centers or prevent them from exploring metadata and improve efficiency and information. Beyond the economic impact and energy footprint, businesses need to know where they stand when it comes to liability for the data they use from other companies, and all the data that they themselves may provide to other businesses.

So, ladies and gentlemen, our data initiative will also address the legal uncertainties surrounding the emerging entities of data ownership, reusability and access to data, interoperability particularly to facilitate switching of provider as well as liability. The main goal is to foster a trustworthy single market for data technologies and services including cloud based services, and to make sure that data location restrictions and the emerging issues do not act as barriers or stifle innovation.

All types of data will be within the scope of the initiative, including personal, industrial, and scientific research data. And, of course, privacy and data security are prerequisites. Our data initiative will work alongside the revised regulatory framework for the protection of personal data. This framework already prevents EU Member States from restricting the free flow of personal data for reasons related to the protection of said data.

Ladies and gentlemen, speaking about the letter, allow me to refer briefly to the key features of this important framework, as this represents a truly decisive step we have already taken to increase citizens’ trust online.

The Data Protection reform on a European level has been one of the key priorities of the Commission, and an important part of the digital single market strategy. The general Data Protection regulation was adopted on 27th of April this year. Since our new regulation will be beneficial to EU businesses as it will put an end to the fragmented implementation of Data Protection across Member States, it will provide for a single set of clear and simplified rules directly applicable across Europe, in particular, it will cut red tape for companies by getting rid of the cumbersome notification requirement for processing or collecting personal data.

Thanks to the one stop shop, companies will only have to deal with one single supervisory authority, the one EU country where they have their main establishment.

Third point, decisions by Data Protection authorities that have a vital European impact will take full account of the use of authorities of citizens of which data are possessed, and so the benefits of this reform have been estimated to be 2.3 billion Euro a year, and there will be a level playing field for business.

All non EU companies will also have to apply the same rules when offering services in our European Union, just as our EU companies currently have to do. This regulation will reinforce the tools to allow people to regain control of their personal data. Individuals will have more information on how their data is processed, and this information should be available in a clear way.

Moreover, the regulation suggests developing new ways of providing new information adapted to the online environment. Finally, it will be easier for people to transfer their personal data between service providers, and to obtain from the controller the rectification or deletion of personal data.

These high Data Protection standards established by the new rules will increase citizens’ trust. Access of providers to develop new services and products using Big Data is linked to their capacity to build and maintain this trust. This creates a virtual circle which boosts data flows and economic growth, strengthening confidence will thus create opportunities for businesses in the Big Data markets, which have a huge potential for growth.

According to estimates, the value of European citizens’ personal data has the potential to grow nearly one trillion Euro a year annually by 2020.

Ladies and gentlemen, consumers need to trust companies in order to take up the services they offer. Privacy in the companies in this respect have a competitive edge and the privacy environment in Europe is an incentive that can bring innovative technology companies to set up in our European Union.

We will now also undertake the review of other European Union Data Protection instruments to ensure full consistency with the new regulation. This will bring full legal certainty to businesses, in particular, we will review the scheduled rules on Data Protection for electronic communications of our e Privacy directive.

But of course, apart from these concrete steps, to boost trust in the digital environment at the European level, let me stress the importance of trust in the transatlantic data flows. My colleague Commissioner Yova, in ’13, have had extensive discussions with our American partners that have led to a new and common understanding on how personal data collected in the EU and transferred to the U.S. should be dealt with on the other side of the Atlantic.

The so called privacy shield was designed to provide the necessary safeguards to guarantee protection of personal data of our citizens while allowing these data to flow across the Atlantic. It is part of our broader effort to restore trust in transatlantic data flows, which includes the adoption of the new Data Protection rules I mentioned and the conclusion of the EU umbrella agreement.

My colleague Commissioner Jourova now is with U.S. finalizing some improvements to the privacy shield to address the recommendations of the Article 29 working party. I’m confident that the Commission will then be in the position to adopt the new decision based on the privacy shield in the coming weeks.

Our aim is to have the privacy shield up and running by the summer this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope I gave you a flavor of the importance the European Commission attributes to trust in the digital environment, and of the initiatives we are putting forward to that end. Trust is indeed key in embracing the digital revolution, to grow this year’s conference theme.

The data initiative along with new Data Protection rules, are examples of how the European Union can contribute to boosting trust so as to ensure that citizens and companies can fully benefit from the digital revolution. I would like to encourage your discussions, and wish you a fruitful meeting.

I’m confident that you will be able to bring forward the debate in many areas, and I’m looking forward to hearing about the results of this year’s conference. Thank you all for being here.


>> EMILY TAYLOR: Thank you very much, Commissioner Oettinger. I’m afraid that Commissioner Oettinger has to leave, because he has other meetings, and so I’d like to give some thanks to him.

And then move on straight away to the next session, the Plenary Session on Internet of Things. I’m going to hand over to Maarten Botterman, who will guide you through the next session.