European Digital Economy and COVID-19 pandemic – current state of affairs, risks, and opportunities – PL 03 2020

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11 June 2020 | 10:00-11:00 | Studio The Hague | Video recording | Transcript | Forum
Consolidated programme 2020 overview / Day 1

(This session was be adapted to the current challenges of the Corona virus)
Proposals: #8, #31, #41, #59, #76, #108, #136, #156, #158, #167, #173, #177, #179 (#64, #139, #149)

Session teaser

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique state of affairs for European digital economy enforcement. On one hand, it has had a catalyzing effect on the digitization of most European economies, on the other hand, it caused restrictions on various digital as well as human rights. Hence, this session will focus on the new reality in the European Digital Economy: What effects have the COVID-19 measures had on the European economy and society? How do we want our post-pandemic digital European economy to be shaped?

Session description

Kicking off this year’s EuroDIG (2020) the plenary on “European Digital Economy and COVID-19 pandemic: current state of affairs, risks, and opportunities” is about to provide an overview on the current social and economic situation considering the COVID-19 pandemic which is affecting not just the global economy but also the society as a whole. In this regard one should not just talk about the influence the pandemic has currently but also which opportunities and risks result out of it. Now is the time to reflect on the current state of affairs to think about how we do want the post-pandemic European (digital) economy to be shaped.

Without any doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has a catalyzing effect on the digitization of businesses as well as government related services and internet usage by consumers. As a result the corporate landscape has changed already - new businesses have been founded, some small players have grown their influence some went down-and-out. Diverse domains such as telecoms, digital media, healthcare, e-commerce, banking and contactless payments are experiencing dramatic changes.

How is this pandemic influencing competition among various businesses? How will small and medium businesses overcome this period? Has it created an environment for a large-scale use of open source products? Has quick and unplanned move to online business increased security risks? What consequences will result out of the pandemic and influence the employment market as well as the future of work?

Due to social distancing people have become creative in meeting online, not just to maintain social habits, but also to ensure children have access to education, in addition to continuing substantial parts of their professional activity through teleworking.Having the advantages of such adaptations in mind mostly, an adequate level of digital rights, security and protection should be ensured. How can we best ensure that public health is preserved and digital rights are safeguarded?

In addition to economic benefits, digitisation should also benefit society through inclusion in multiple perspectives. Has this philosophy been retained in the latest developments? Are these developments here to stay even after the pandemic?

Taking this to heart high level speakers are going to share their perspective on the state of affairs as well as their outlook to be discussed with the audience.


Panel style opening remarks followed by open mic

Further reading

Links to relevant websites, declarations, books, documents. Please note we cannot offer web space, so only links to external resources are possible. Example for an external link: Website of EuroDIG

COVID-19 crisis. Shaping Europe's Digital Future: Communication from The Commission to The European Parliament, The Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and The Committee of The Regions [1]

Broadband Commission Agenda for Action​​​. For Faster and Better Recovery [2]

Tackling global coronavirus(COVID-19). Contributing to a global effort. OECD [3]

Meeting the Challenge of the Coronavirus State of Play as Seen from the WTO [4]


Until .

Please provide name and institution for all people you list here.

Focal Points

  • Meri Baghdasaryan
  • Marcel Krummenauer

Organising Team (Org Team) List them here as they sign up.

The Org Team is a group of people shaping the session. Org Teams are open and every interested individual can become a member by subscribing to the mailing list.

  • Vittorio Bertola
  • Marie-Noemie Marques
  • Lucien Castex
  • Sofia Badari
  • Aleksandra Ivankovic
  • Roberto Gaetano
  • Liljana Pecova Ilieska
  • Alexander Isavnin
  • André Melancia
  • Eva Stöwe
  • Ross Creelman
  • Narine Khachatryan
  • Arvin Kamberi
  • Charlotte Altenhoener-Dion
  • Sebastiaan Berting
  • Nicola Frank

Key Participants

  • Audrey Plonk, Head of Digital economy policy division at OECD
  • Patrick Penninckx, Head of Information Society Department at Council of Europe
  • Caterina Bortolini, Head of International and European Institutional Affairs, TIM, and member of the Executive Board, ETNO
  • Stephen Taylor, Deputy Director General at “AREA Science Park” (Startup Accelerator)


  • Meri Baghdasaryan, YCIG
  • Marcel Krummenauer

Remote Moderator

Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.


Current discussion, conference calls, schedules and minutes

PL3 Org Team Coordination Calls:

CALL 1: 10 April @ 1600 CEST. Initial session planning.

CALL 2: 27 April @ 1900 CEST. Second Planning call.

CALL 3: 7 May @ 1800 CEST. Third Planning call.


  • The main question that we as society need to answer: Is COVID-19 ushering in a fundamental digital paradigm shift?
  • To bridge the gap of the digital divide, stakeholders need a forward looking approach that promotes investment and co-investment in both the short and long term is needed, in addition to building trust and up-skilling on ICT matters in order to facilitate improvements
  • There should be no contradiction between data protection and health. Independent oversight and audits should be applied to technologies such as contact tracing to ensure privacy and data protection.
  • In the road ahead, we need to think about the type of sustainable society that we want to create and what role digital technology will play in this society.
  • Science has a key role to play in the hybrid and flexible future as it allows for an evidence-based approach to the technological industry.

Find an independent report of the session from the Geneva Internet Platform Digital Watch Observatory at

Video record


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>>Without further delay, I would like to hand over to my colleague Nadia and Auke who are facilitating the studio in The Hague and will open the first Plenary. Nadia, so nice to see you.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: Good morning!

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: I hand over to you to host the session in the studio in The Hague.

I would ask everyone, please bear with us if not everything goes perfect. We’re really are entering new territory here. It is the first virtual meeting, first visitor well IGF that takes place. If everything is not 100% perfect, please don’t be disappointed.

Over to you, Nadia.

>> NAUDIA TJAHJA: Hello! Good morning from Studio The Hague! Naudia Tjahja, I’m your studio host and joined here in the studio by our remote moderator Auke Pals.

>> AUKE PALS: Hello. The role of a remote moderator is to monitor the chat and unmute you when – when you raise your hand in the participant list we’re here in The Hague and we thank you for hosting us..

>> NAUDIA TJAHJA: And I want to thank the team for providing The Hague to us in the next couple of days. I would like to go over the code of conduct before we start. EuroDIG is all about dialogue and it is your contribution through your thoughts, ideas, questions that make these sessions inspiring, engaging, we hope you choose to actively participate in the virtual sessions. Now that you joined the studio you’ll be able to see your name in the participant list. We would like to ask you to make sure that you have your full name display sod we know who we’re talking to. You can set this up by clicking on your name and choosing the option to rename.

When you entered the room you were muted to prevent feedback that can disturb the sexes. Please raise your hand if you have a question and we’ll unmute you. When you’re unmuted for the intervention, we kindly ask you to turn on your video, it is great to see with whom we’re having the discussion with and do let us know who you are by stating the name and affiliation. Without further ado, I would like to introduce to you the moderators of Plenary 3 on European Digital Economy and COVID‑19 pandemic ‑ current state of affairs, risks, and opportunities. The moderators Meri Baghdasaryan and Marcel Krummenauer.

Please, you have the floor.

>> Thank you so much. Hello, welcome to this Plenary on European Digital Economy and COVID‑19 pandemic ‑ current state of affairs, risks, and opportunities at EuroDIG 2020. As mentioned, I’m Meri Baghdasaryan and I’m I represent the student Committee of the youth and with my colleague Marcel Krummenauer who presents the German youth IGF, we served as the cofocal points for the Plenary and today we have the honor of moderating this session. The pandemic created a unique State of affair for global economies and society as whole. We have had new challenges photographing many to adapt and act quickly in the new set of circumstances while it has a catalyzing effect in various areas, it has created new realities that raised alarms with regard to especially the Human Rights implications. We’re honored to start this important discussion on the risks and opportunities that the COVID‑19 pandemic has brought along for the European digital economy and have a glimpse into the future that we can foresee after this pandemic is over. We’re delighted to have a panel of distinguished participants representing different organizations and perspectives, I would like to introduce our audience to Audrey Plonk, Head of Digital Economy Policy Division at OECD, Patrick Penninckx, Head of Information Society Department at Council of Europe, Caterina Bortolini, Head of International and European Institutional Affairs, TIM, and member of the Executive Board, ETNO, Stephen Taylor, Deputy Director General at “AREA Science Park”, without further ado, I would like to give the floor to our panelist for their opening mark, we’re interested to learn how the pandemic has affected your organization’s area of work how it challenged what and how you have been doing in the field and I would remind the speakers to be mindful of the short time that we have been allocated and ask you to keep your opening remarks short and we’ll notify you when the time for your opening interventions is about to lapse. Thank you for your understanding. I would like to give the floor to Audrey Plonk who represented OECD.

>> AUDREY PLONK: Good morning. Good morning, good evening. It is a pleasure to be with you today. Thank you for the invitation.

Since the start of the COVID crisis OECD has compiled data analysis and recommendations on a range of topics to address health, economic and societal issues resulting from the crisis. I want to touch on a few of those in my opening hoping it provides a foundation for the discussion throughout the morning. First I want to talk about what’s happening with the networks. Since the start of COVID crisis we have seen for broadband communications soar with operator experiencing a 60% increase in internet traffic with compared to before the crisis. We continue to track this development.

While network operators and contact providers are maintaining their services using capacity, risks related to stability and resilience and congestion have certainly been identified.

It is also evidence that being connected to the internet is not a luxury as many have already noted but it is a prerequisite and critical infrastructure for the society and economies. That means bridging the digital divide, not just in providing access but providing quality access to digital services, tools, which is more and more urgent since COVID.

We want to talk about what’s happening with technologies, digital technologies, a topic we have tracked for many, many years at the OECD, mobile and financial applications are adopted in innovative ways to improve the effectiveness of government and frontline responses to COVID‑19. Many governments took unprecedented measures to track and trace citizens in order to contain COVID‑19 and our digital technologies and advanced analytics to collect, process and share data for collective responses. Furthermore, tracking through the AI observatory, the AI is being used in every aspect of the COVID crisis from understanding the progress to looking for cures and vaccines.

Finally, not least, but what’s happening with people through our work on consumer issues on privacy and security, we have been tracking developments that I think are important particularly for this audience. First, it is that the COVID crisis has up end the global consumer landscape, confinement measures have moved consumers further online, changing demands and in some ways exacerbated the risks that they face. Many consumers will or still are financially and psychologically vulnerable to the existing – to scams and to malicious activity online, particularly the elderly and those who are – that have less digital skills.

There are increasing reports of unfair, misleading, fraudulent commercial practices online, these include financial scams, false claims of treatments, price gauging and unsafe or counterfeit products. We’re also tracking with the online platforms, what they’re doing in response and we noticed a significant, unprecedented amount of action on the part of the global platforms to remove harmful content and to help protect consumers, obviously more can continue to be done.

With regard to digital security risk, scams, phishing campaigns are prevalent as they do in many crisis situations, malicious actors are taking advantage of the epidemic to conduct attacks and exploit consumers, they’re using cases of risk, cases of distributed denial of service attacks and we expect that to continue but we’re also tracking its development some countries limiting the spread of the virus is controversial in terms of risk of violating privacy and fundamental Rights of citizens when the measures lack public transparency and the constitution. In addition to those three broad areas, I want to note that the OECD will track and develop the digital economy and as we look at the COVID crisis we’re asking ourselves is this a blip on the radar, meaning is this a moment in time and then we’ll go back to something more “normal” or is this a fundamental change in both how we use technology and what we expect from it in the future.

The data that we collected over the course of decades at the OECD, specifically what we continue to look for as countries transform digitally, when I say that, I mean, as they develop technologies, and use technologies with their societies, it helps understand the answer to that question, whether this is a fundamental paradigm shift for the world or whether we are just experiencing a blip on the radar.

With that, I turn back to the moderator. Thank you for the opportunity to participate today.

>> MERI BAGHDASARYAN: Thank you for the insightful opening remark. I think you made important pinpointing such issues of bridging the digital divide, the consumer rights, all of the harmful content and the risks digital security risks that arose due to the fact that everyone these days live online more than offline. Now turning to the Human Rights, what has been posed with the pandemic, I give the floor to Patrick Penninckx from Council of Europe. Patrick, you have the floor.


I first want to say hello to all of my friends and family whose watching basically because this is like an opportunity that we not often have right now, we see each other virtually, but we would also like to see each other physically. That’s why I greet all of them right now.

Council of Europe and economy, it seems a bit strange to have the Council of Europe which is often seen as the Human Rights speak about the digital economy. In fact, the idea of the economic and social progress was already embedded in 1949 statute of the Council of Europe as one of its core foundations actually. I would like to take that as a starting point. I would like to reflect together with you on whether we’re living or looking towards a complete change of our societies. We have seen the digital economy has provided us with a number of benefits. I would also like to look into a couple of the challenges and also then maybe together look at what can we $or what should we be doing. We have seen it be a massive recourse to teleworking, internet, the internet, the dramatic increase of video conferences, online communication. The newly developing online services, sometimes for the detriment of other services, which a series impact on the economy. Again in time and cost efficiency but maybe somewhat lost in humanity. More resilience from the digital economy towards the pandemic and parts of the real economy, and the use of the digital tools to fight a pandemic have been as well as putting forward questions with regard to privacy, data protection. The boost in digitalization in schools, governance, science, public services have seen a diagram tech increase. At the same time, I think we’re faced with a more and more higher and bigger digital divide which has been exacerbated by the current situation. What is the challenges? There is a growing dependence of online media. That could be a positive but we have to have a look at the negative impacts.

For example, this information and this trust, what do we do with those? Cyber – cybercrime has grown, cyber criminals adapted quickly to this situation.

Also, as Aba calls it in the 70s, the winner takes it all model. That is to what extent are the bigger internet service providers and internet servers, they’re not going to take the bigger share of the digital economy. There is a growing divide in that economy and as Director General of UNESCO also stated, the digital divide throughout the world, within our societies and also within the world. Our personal live, data, they’re sometimes treated as commodity and that we’re increasingly dependent on the type of information that’s provided to us without us being really able to check.

What should be done? We’ll be brief on that. We should be able to first of all, in a multistakeholder partnership as EuroDIG has always been, we also need to develop that at the margin level in the digital societies, providing a clear, common standards for the digital economy, we have to enable an environment of legal certainty and predictability. We have to promote veg lens and scrutiny with respect to Human Rights. We often claim to have to work towards Human Rights by design, explain timely, carefully all intervenes to the public and involve the public through media literacy in the development of our digital society. We have to provide personal data protection guarantees, we have to focus on the digital divide, we have to ensure a spirit of cooperation and transparency, develop innovation friendly and rights‑based policies and these are the items that I would like to put forward in the fee regimes part of the panel.

>> MERI BAGHDASARYAN: Thank you so much. It feels counter intuitive to have Council of Europe at the Plenary of the digital economy, but as it was mentioned, in the beginning, this new State of affairs created some challenges and Human Rights implications in different fields. We’re happy to have you here. Thank you for the insights.

Now going from regional perspective to maybe more local, I would like to give the floor to Caterina Bortolini who represents Head of International and European Institutional Affairs, TIM, and member of the Executive Board, ETNO. You have the floor.

>> CATERINA BORTOLINI: Thank you. Do you hear me? Thank you for having invited me. I represent ETNO. It is a pleasure to be here and representing our perspective, not only at national level but European level as well. Let’s start with this provocation, we decided to never call the coronavirus an opportunity, but it is surely and was surely a defining moment in which as you may as company, we learned hard lessons. Now we must ensure that they don’t go to waste and we thank you for inviting us to talk about this topic. No sector escaped from COVID, emerged unscathed from that. The Telecom sector was not exempt from it. As already mentioned before, Telecom sector was under a very strong pressure because we saw a vast amount of traffic over our networks due to number of people working from home, streaming line shows, gaming online and attending schools because we cannot forget all our children and students are continuing studying.

Let me just give you figures as mentioned before. The figures, they’ll be a bit different. The increases in mobile data traffic of up to 40% and in fixed data traffic, up to 70% with some spikes showing 90% increase. In Italy, we have more or less the pick of these figures. What operators do to face the pandemic emergence? Our action in the first instance, the network and service level, in particular, with the strengthening of the network capacity both in the fixed and in the mobile field. We also increased the coverage of our network. In Italy we have a specific case because it was more than 6,000 areas, so the areas, where there is no broadband connection, and we do this in the first instance. So Telecom successfully has to ensure the continuity of the services in a reliable, secure way. Not the general network crashes have been experienced at least in Europe, in Italy in particular. We add to this kind of initiative other initiatives that we call solidarity actions. We mobilize the resources to support our customer, the public administration, also local communities, including, and it is very important to note the delivery of free or unlimited services, removing the threshold sets in the commercial. We collaborated with authorities to support social distancing and monitoring and we ensure the health and safety of our employees, we put all of our employees in a remote working modality and also we have, and it was mentioned before, we had to face also quite a huge campaign on the information, of the potential of our networks and in our technologies. In the same time we collaborated with school and we put forward a number of initiatives aimed at allowing students to improve digital skill and to continue working. I mean, at the same time, what I would like to stress, it is that the tech sector was enabled in this period to prioritize the demand of the connectivity. Because of the number of reasons, first, because I mean, we put this threshold, but also because we experience revenue losses in terms of – we register a decrease in the roaming movements, in the roaming fees, also I mean, a slowdown in the commercial action and also the SMEs, our main clients. Looking forward, if we look forward, it is not all plain sailing, we are an investment heavy sector, there is no recovery with no additional funds for deep and widespread digitalization.

What we need to face not the emergence but to face and approach in the right way the future. We need a forward‑looking policy approach that promotes investments both in the short and longer term that promote coinvestment because it is important that we collaborate, we cooperate with other players on the same market but also on different markets to accelerate the rollout of essential 5G and fiber network as a tool to promote inclusion and digitalization. What we need to do, it is – it has been mentioned before, it is to cover the gap of the digital divide that we should allow people to get connected whatever area they live in and to close the digital divide, to make them able to connect and to live and work online. What we need, I mean, to have it – we need a framework that simplifies the proceedings, the reducing of cost of the rollout of our network. Other centers, we need a coherent, harmonized plan for 5G deployment, that looks to create a true market or have this based on the guidelines and the rules already provided for by the national level.

I think we should all work together. We have also to guarantee that the rollout and development of our network is based on trust. Our customers should know and trust that our network and services are secure, are safe, are based according to the rules and all of the data that is on network as far as the total is concerned, treated according to the GDPR and prone laws. It is important that Europeans know that our network is secure and solid.

I would just say last thing concerning the take up. One thing the development of the network, but another thing, it is the take‑up of services. We have to ensure a sound take up. In Italy we have an open issue, Italy is below the E.U. average on this, it is a culture issue. I think we have to add to all the action initiatives I mentioned very quickly before, we have do more to increase the digital skills so that we have to work more on upscaling, reskilling on the matters in order to guarantee that our citizens are able to find new jobs and to create new jobs.

In order to do all of that, I think that we need consulted actions, we need cooperation, not only ourselves but with governments, institutions and citizens. If I have the time after, or maybe as more focus on misinformation and the need of data, everybody knows which are the potential of the 5G and other innovative technologies. Thank you so much. Merchandises I think it goes without say, Telecom operators were posed with one of the bigger challenges in the context of COVID pandemic and thank you so much for sharing your insights on both the local Italian level and regional European one.

Now going to another stakeholder group, which has been directly affected in this context, I would like to give the floor to Stephen Taylor, who is Deputy Director General at “AREA Science Park”.

>> STEPHEN TAYLOR: It is a pleasure to be with you today virtually of course.

As has been said, I’m Deputy Director General at AREA science park in Italy, we have basis in other parts of the recently and also other parts of Italy and other regions. I’m with you here today because the Director General couldn’t be with you for other commitment, both send best wishes to the conference and the organizers.

A brief idea of who we are and what we do and perhaps later go into some of the things we have done as responses to this particular situation.

Our park is a national research body in Italy but unique in that it is the national research body that’s tasked with innovation rather than with fundamental research. We facilitate the research performed by some of the colleagues that you have already heard from today based in our area and others that you will hear from in due course. We also nationally work with other organizations in the public and private sectors around the country and internationally.

Our mission contains four key elements, history, obviously, it is that we were born to manage the science park campuses which hosts both public and private research organizations and over 60 research organizations, 10% of them public, 90% private companies, they’re based on our campuses and it is our job to make sure that their research is facilitated, fundamental and applied research, and our key role is to make sure that the results of the research finds its way. Internet plays an increasing role in facilitating both of those processes and we couldn’t do anything that we do without direct connections with our many stakeholders. The internet is fundamental to our everyday lives. The second line of activity we have, the again ration of new businesses through our in‑house incubator and connections with other incubators across the territory, that’s an area we have continued to develop and minister was with us in Vegas, it was one of the international showcases for some of the technologies we’ll touch on in the next few days.

Our third line of activity, process innovation, here we try to work with companies, particularly small and medium companies to help them to improve their products and processes through innovation and most recently we have focused almost all of that activity on digital innovation, the innovation that allows the digitalization of industrial processes to facilitate and improve production and customized production and that, too, relies heavily on the Internet of Things and on good connectivity and secure data transmission.

So that work has gone on during this process and I’ll tell you more about that a little later.

The fourth line, it is the access to infrastructure used for research. We host some of the best world class infrastructure available. We have a resident company here, a resident organization here, we’re also a major shareholder and it is a publicly funded organization, but Electra has a third generation facility and the free electroon laser, that’s quite a combination. That research infrastructure carried on delivering excellent research throughout this crisis precisely because stakeholders and users were able to communicate with operators who are physically present around the facility using all of the guarantee their safety and working with hundreds of researchers around the world conducting excellent research using that infrastructure, none of this would be possible without secure transmission of high‑quality, high an amounts, large amounts of data over secure, high bandwidth Internet con necks. We’re fortunate to be connected to the light net network here and that’s attached to the backbone of the research organizations in Italy. We’re fortunate to be in a strong position in terms of our connectivity. That connectivity has been put to the test during this crisis we share the characters of many in the public Victor of not being the fastest to act with that reputation. Our response to that crisis is a real measure, test to our ability as a public sector organization to respond rapidly and maintain continuity of service to all of our stakeholders and guarantee that that research continues and in the last few year, we have been fortunate, there is an old expression I would rather be lucky than good. We’re lucky enough to have a lot of good people around us who have helped us over the last couple of years with an initiative that’s called Adgal, it was launched by a collaboration between the Ministry of Research and Ministry for Economic Development together with our local, regional government here in Julia to try to stimulate the four lines of activity I mentioned before, but developing them into the 21st Century. I’ll talk a bit more about some of the directory responses that we have had in order to guarantee our response through smart working, taking our personnel from an experimental phase prior to this process up to 170 staff that we have. The response to the virus itself by using our technology platform which provides next generation sequencing capability, working with other organizations like the international center of engineering, biotech knowledge, another resident organization here to map the genome of the virus in patients here and contribute that data over the internet internationally to help the global fight to combat the virus. We have facilitated smart working and digitalization for the companies of our region and beyond, rewarding companies that show excellence in that, I’ll talk more about that at this time later on, and also working with companies to facilitate their research to combat the virus directly with an open call to research organizations to make free use of our capabilities and genetic sequencing technologies which are state‑of‑the‑art because we believe that kind of scientific collaboration is absolutely paramount and key to this type of emergency and to combating it internationally and it is through the collaboration of the international scientific community that we can respond very quickly to situations like this.

The fundamental thing that we have learned through this crisis, it is the need to continue to carry on, to find ways around every obstacle, every problem that’s thrown at this. We hope and strongly believe that the lessons learned during this crisis will and us to be better, faster, stronger, able to be more adaptable in the future and I hope we’ll have time to address some of those issues in the Q&A session later on.

Thank you.

>> MERI BAGHDASARYAN: Thank you so much for all your insights and different perspectives.

Now I would like to also include our audience in the discussion, more specifically. I would like to ask the studio host to screen the question.

We have talked a lot about all the challenges and all of the opportunities created by COVID‑19 pandemic, however, as mentioned, there are also several Human Rights implications, mostly it is regarding privacy of data protection and safeguarding public health. I would like to invite our audience to submit their responses regarding the following question, how we can best ensure the balance between safeguarding privacy and public health. I would like to pass the floor to my colleague, Marcel.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you, Meri, for bringing me up.

As has already been mentioned by mostly all of the participating members, we have an increased impact on the security and data protection due to the corona crisis. We were really interested in seeing what the audience is guessing along that topic and looking forward to the first answers. In the meantime, I would like to ask Caterina, she talked about increased traffic and they’re trying to face the GDPR issue that’s coming up. I would like to hear more about your ideas on that question.

>> CATERINA BORTOLINI: Thank you, Marcel.

Yes, I think – I mean, I come back to the data issue and the privacy. I think it is an important lesson that we have learned also during the emergence. We fully understood the power of the data during the crisis. When the health authorities, epidemiologists, and the European Commission came to ask how we could help, we went to the table with a strong and historic privacy culture as I mentioned before, we have – I mean, it is a history of data protection rules and application. As a sector, we are used to the GDPR standards since even before the crisis. We brought in some commissions also, aggregated, organized data from our networks according to the GDPR rules, and I would like to ensure that they were not targeting the Chief Evangelist, they’re being used to detect behavior and movement. This made us understand the full power that telecommunication can have on society and how they can be used positively in the future. We need on our side to ensure that the data, it is made according to the European rules which have a high standard of data protection and we ensure it, it is very important, very important to just stress it.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you for your answer.

From what we see as a statement from the audience, letting parliaments make the rules for how contact tracing is done, not Google and Apple which is linked to your statement. Going on, I would like to hear what others are saying on digital rights and aspects mentioned, those two things were mentioned in his opening statement. Patrick, you have the floor.

>> PATRICK PENNINCKX: It is good you mentioned, of course, governments and the private enterprise. Of course, we should also mention data protection authorities, we have the GDPR and we have council Europe and 108 and 108 plus and we have looked in this issue of data protection and health and stated that there should be no construction between health protection and data protection. If there is data to be processed, for example, for digital contact tracing purposes, it should be reduced to the strictest minimum and any data that is not related, not necessary should not be collected. Also digital contact tracing systems should be subject to independent, effective oversight and audits to ensure the Rights of data protection and privacy. The data protection authorities should be involved in the outset of the development of the systems and use their powers also of intervention and investigation to ensure data protection requirements are really enforced. I think these are crucial issues for us.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you for the statement.

I think you made a really good point saying that data does not need to be collected and shouldn’t be collected and even kept. I think one of the audience meant the same thing, talking about the data transparency, trust is key especially because of the current situation. That’s good participation from the audience, we have Wolfgang who raised his hand, wanting to make a statement.

Auke, can you enable him to speak?

>> Can you hear me?

>> Loud and clear. My question is not on privacy and security, but about money. The governments did spend billions of dollars to help the victims of the COVID‑19 crisis, where this money will come from, and because the OECD, they’re leading the global discussion and negotiations on digitals on the network. My question, it is how does O ECD and others see the opportunities, the global solution for a global digital tax regime until the end of the year to avoid a trade war. There is not a decision by the European parliament that European also start probably national or regional taxation if there is no global solution. That means my question is to Audrey, does this COVID‑19 help find a global solution for the tax issue? Thank you very much.

Back to you.

>> AUDREY PLONK: Thank you for your very good question. While I represent the OECD, I don’t represent the tax director of the OECD. My colleagues that are responsible for those negotiations are unfortunately not here.

You know, as I said in the chat, I think these are very important discussions, they’re of the highest priority of discussions happening at the OECD and highly prioritized despite the pandemic and ability to get people together for what are difficult discussions and, you know, we often prefer to do that in person because it allow as certain level of negotiations. We’re finding solutions around that I can say although I, myself, am not directly involved in them.

As I said in the chat, I think there is a strong sense of momentum and desire to get to a good solution by the end of the year. What role COVID is playing exactly, I think it is a great point, one that I can’t personally respond to directly. I have to imagine that it is obviously playing a huge part in what people are thinking, not just the OECD but certainly the member governments that are involved and trying to find the solution.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you, Audrey. Thank you for asking that wonderful question. It is kind of the perfect translation to the next talking point to our Plenary. We have prepared another question because we want to look at the future too.

I’m asking the studio host, could you please show the next question, it is are the current developments here to stay even after the pandemic? While the remote moderator is putting that up, I would like to ask Patrick, he raised the topic that this is an interruption or a complete change. I would like to hear your opinion on that?

>> PATRICK PENNINCKX: For me, this is a complete change. The problem is, we have not come to grips with it yet.

I think we are in front of a very profound change in our societies. We’re still thinking, talking too much for the time being as it is an interruption, even for the EuroDIG conference, let’s face it, we say, okay, now it is a virtual meeting but next year we’ll be physical. That’s the State of mind of many, this will go away. I think we should take a different starting point. that different starting point has to be what type of sustainable society do we want to create, and what is the role of digital technology in that society? The challenges that are ahead of us need to be tackled. We were not tackling them before. We have been put in a crisis situation with a lockdown of 7 million in the world. We need to draw our consequences from that. If it is now said this was an intermittent thing, we’re going to business as usual, we’re going in the wrong direction. Today, it is the pandemic, the sanitary situation, tomorrow, it is the economic situation, the day after, it will be the democracy situation that’s going to be at risk in a way. In that respect the digital economy has to take the government or the societal development, including environmental development into consideration when considering how we are going to work and live in the future and we have to fundamentally question the way we work and the way we do things. That’s my starting point.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you very much, Patrick.

Prior to coming to Roberto from the audience, I would like to bring up Steven from the area science park who mentioned that they’re interested in bringing innovation and research from the academic sector to the private sector and I would like to hear from the academic sector, if they see a big change in the future for itself and the private sector too.

>> STEPHEN TAYLOR: First of all, we shouldn’t forget where the internet started and why it started. The sharing of information and the monitoring of scientific experiments and the sharing of data between scientists, it is at the root of what we’re talking about. Scenes has always been at the forefront of finding better ways to share information. I fully agree with the last speaker. I don’t think we’re going become wards, I think what we’ll be doing – backwards – we’ll learn the lessons from this experience to go forward in a better, more sustainable way to do all of the things that we used to do, but not necessarily in the ways that we used to do them. What I envisage is a hybrid future in which all of the things we do will be evaluated based on the optimal way of doing them in terms of sustainability, both economically, socially as well as environmentally. Science has a key role to play in that because science is the space in which we develop new ideas, we put them to the test, we evaluate them, on the basis of evidence, we move forward to implement them. Our role has always been to help to take that evidence‑based approach, to help push new technology developments and new innovations into industry because it is an industry that they then have that manifestation of their existence that allows real benefits to real people in terms of quality of life, in terms of health, in terms of wellbeing. I think we’ll continue to see the increased use of scientific research in all areas of life and the increased sharing internationally thanks to the improvements in the internet and we all agree that the internet need to continue to mature and we need better backbones, more reliable and secure connections for everybody, not just between large organizations. That will facilitate the kind of hybrid flexible approach that I think is the future for every organization. There will clearly be some activities that need to be done physically, we have some here in our case, but there will be many things that can be done in a hybrid way where we make the most of face‑to‑face time when that’s appropriate and we make the most long distance communications to avoid unnecessary travel, unnecessary pollution, et cetera. I think the future is definitely the modernization of research into society through industry, through innovation, technological development.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you very much, Steven, for your very interesting statement prior to going on with Roberto. I have wanted to give the floor for a statement from an administrative matter for EuroDIG.

>> AUKE PALS: For administrative note, the room was limited to 100 participants. We’re fixing that now to operate it at 100 participants to 1,000 which we encourage you also to use the forum, ask questions. I’m also monitoring that forum while fixing this issue and watch the YouTube stream so that we can collect answers.

Thank you.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you for this helpful information.

I see Roberto has no question anymore.

I would like to ask Audrey who is –

>> AUKE PALS: There was a question in the chat from Nigel Hicksen, a question for Patrick and Audrey. He says many thanks for your address, in terms of future governance for internet, are you concerned that while OECD and Council of Europe, other stakeholders, other discussions on ICT, internet issues, such as U.N. only involves governments.

>> PATRICK PENNINCKX: If I may, I already said in my opening statement and just want to say hello to Nigel, in my opening statement, the Council of Europe has made the radical choice for a multistakeholder approach. We have done so already for a very long time involving the non‑governmental organizations sector, including the youth sector in all of the work that we are doing. Also in the standard setting, it includes not only the non‑governmental organizations, academia, but increasingly also our business partners. We have established a partnership with all of the major business – internet companies and also Telecom companies and their representative associations and for us, this is a fundamental choice. We cannot do this on our own, governments cannot do this on their own. We need to involve in a multistakeholder consultation, a consultation, the future development, trying to do that in a corner will not help us.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you, Patrick, for your statement as this question was intended for Audrey. I would like to give Audrey the floor.

>> AUDREY PLONK: Thank you. I want to respond to a couple of the – respond to a couple of the previous questions, regarding to the multistakeholder, thank you, Nigel, as I said in the chat, we have deep respect for all different approaches for developing public policy and around technology and internet governance. I think at the OECD our job, it is to do evidence‑based public policymaking. Certainly in the context of technology, which is what my team studies, you know, working in the multistakeholder environment, it is absolutely critical. If you look at our AI observatory we launched back in February, we have data coming in there from different data sources in the private sector, we look at skills, jobs, impact of the demand out there. We couldn’t do that successfully without the multistakeholder collaboration. That’s one – it is a big example, but one of many examples of the value that we get and that the governments and the other stakeholders get from that collaboration.

With regard to where we are and the future, I tend to agree with my colleagues on the panel that I think we’re in a fundamental turning point and, you know, we’re asking ourselves important questions with regard to how we think about it, measuring it forward. It is hard to imagine the situation where we would be as successful at navigating that pandemic if it weren’t for the digital transformation and the work that’s been done in the last 10, 20 years on technology. Going forward, it certainly has hey lighted the divides and differences and the gaps that need to be filled. We see it as an opportunity to build on what we know is good public policy practice, for example, with regard to broadband deployment and development, with regard to privacy, with regard to security and to look at that in the future not as a going back to the past but as a – this is to some degree the new normal and countries that have ground the digital transformation either more quickly, effectively over time, they have come out of the other end of this a bit more able to adapt to the environment. We’re looking at where the data takes us for questions like that. I think that’s important because it can help us direct to the future.

What aspects of digital transformation should we focus on? We put out at last year, launched the – a toolkit, the going digital toolkit, we look at many parameters of digital transformation, jobs, access, well‑being, security, trust, and so we’re looking at data in all of the areas to help us really from an evidence perspective understand both what helps us transform digitally and what the effects of that are over time.

I hope we can continue that conversation and again to Nigel’s point, coming back to multistakeholder, that’s an important multistakeholder project.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you very much, Audrey, for your comment.

Prior to heading over to the Geneva internet forum to wrap up our session and producing our statements, I wanted to give Caterina Bortolini the floor for a short, final statement.

>> CATERINA BORTOLINI: Thank you very much.

Actually I would like to answer to the question on all the developments, are they here to stay after the pandemic. I think it is quite important for all our companies and societies my answer is yes on the infrastructure. COVID, the lockdown accelerated that digital transformation which was already underway. What we believe is that the volume of traffic, which spiked during the confinement will continue to grow and we need to boost investment, I have to replay many times, that during the con fine., our governments, in Italy in particular, but also at European level, took many different measures, both at natural level tine support, improve investment for the improvement of the network coverage and capacity. Also to support the demands, in Italy for instance, the government approved a number of vouchers to help people to buy services. That’s a Good direction. We do not stop when the COVID will be over. This is the right direction. We have to continue to invest, national governments and institutions have to continue to support the digitalization, both at company level and also at consumer level. I think that an important thing is, companies should be able to find the right business model according to the specificity of the model, the specificity of the clients with the aim also to rationalize investment. Now the commission with the recovery plan has given a very strong signal. We hope in the very short‑term, we need very rapid decision, we hope that the Member States will agree on that because we need very fast measures and reaction and we’re ready to follow them. Thank you.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you. It would be interesting to look at what’s been discussed this year in next year and see kind of what’s come true for sure.

Prior to heading over to the next discussion, I wanted to give the floor to the Geneva internet platform who joined us for reporting purposes and wanted to formulate our statements for this session.

You have the floor.

>> Hello, everyone, thank you for the floor. I’m from the Geneva internet platform. The Geneva internet platform is reporting from some of the EuroDIG sessions and for today we have drafted several messages.

I would kindly ask – yes, thank you – the first message of the session is the following Chen the main question, society needs to look into whether it relates the COVID‑19 crisis represents a fundamental digital paradigm shift with regard to the future.

Next slide, please. To cover the gap, we need a forward looking approach to promote investment and coinvestment in short and long‑term and facilitating pickup and generate new jobs.

Next slide.

Thank you.

The third message is the following, there should be no contradiction between data protection and health protection. Independent oversight and audits should be applied to technologies such as contact tracing to ensure the protection of privacy and data protection.

Thank you. In the way ahead, we need to think about the type of sustainable society that we want to create and what the role – what role digital technology will play in this society.

The last message, please.

Science has a key role to play in the hybrid and flexible future as it allows for an evidence‑based approach to the technological industry. I would like to mention that these messages are not final and that they will be subject to comments which will be – more information on this will be provided by EuroDIG.

Thank you.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you very much for wrapping up.

I would like to invite all of the audience to comment on the statements and to express their minds on it.

Thank you very much for Auke, Nadia, for all that joined us today. Thank you for the audience, we’re extending our room capacity because we’re so interested in what’s being discussed here. I wish you a great EuroDIG and lots of interesting discussion.

Thank you very much from Meri and I.

>> NAUDIA TJAHJA: Thank you very much, everyone.

Of course, a very, very big thank you to our moderators, Meri and Marcel.

Now, we would also like to thank the reporter for their hard work on the Geneva interrupt platform and look forward to having further discussions on the forum. I’m wondering whether – I’m wondering if EuroDIG headquarters are here? Are you already here.

I haven’t heard yet from Santo.

We would like to encourage you to come back soon. The next session, it will start at 11:30. The session will focus on workshop 3, the impact of DNS encryption on the internet ecosystem and users. We hope you’ll come back.

In the meantime we hope to hear back from the studio and I look forward to seeing you back here in this room.

Bye for now! Thank you all for your contributions and your support and we’ll do our best to ensure the sessions go smoothly the rest of the day.

Thank you.