Key note speech: Digital Agenda Assembly – highlights / reporting from the European Commission by Linda Corugedo Steneberg – 2013

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21 June 2013 | 9:00-9:30
Programme overview 2013


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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.

>> BERTRAND de La CHAPELLE: Okay. Good morning. I sincerely apologize for the delay, but we have been waiting for a bigger audience in the room. It’s not working? Oh, so I will repeat. I’m sorry for the delay. We have been expecting more participants to come into the room, but we have to start. As you know, now we have a keynote speech. But before the keynote speech I would ask Linda Steneberg from the representation of the European Commission to do a short introduction, because we have a five-minute video. But she is the right person to do the presentation.

>> LINDA STENEBERG: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Good morning fellow Internauts and fellow people in the room. I’m here to present a five-minute video organised by the European Commission. It represents four Portuguese youngsters and they are expressing 12 thoughts on the digital agenda as a subject and also on the Internet group as a subject. 12 thoughts, 12 different statements that sure represent that we are united on diversity and united on the digital agenda. So we will no longer delay. Let’s hear the video.


(Technical difficulties)

I would like to tell you what Nellie said. As you know, European leaders in March called upon the Commission to come forward with concrete proposals for two single telecom markets to help Europe return to growth. Connectivity is the raw material for digital economy, and unfortunately in Europe, contrary to what happens in the US or Asia, our telecom market which provides such connectivity remains fragmented, lacks dynamis and skill. The importance of having one single market goes beyond the telecom sector as such. What is a mistake is – we should have one

(Technical difficulties)

To device manufacturers of the car industry and of course citizens.

So we are actually now working on a set of ambitious legacy proposals to create such a true single telecom market. This would allow for operators to allow digital services across the EU and allow citizens and businesses to enjoy services from anywhere in Europe, wherever they are, or like Nellie put it yesterday, I will safeguard Net Neutrality for every European everywhere.

The idea is to tackle one by one the bottlenecks that currently stand in the way of a single market, and we all know this to be true, by the way. As a first step, we should have a European passport, valid everywhere in Europe, which would enable every European eCommunication providers to be authorized in their home Member States and provide services across the EU on the basis of a consistent set of rules.

As the second step, we must better coordinate at the EU level the conditions and timing of spectrum assignments, and create better conditions for the offerings of pan-European access services and interconnection.

And we should not make the single market – we could not make the single market a reality without creating a single consumer space in Europe, enabling citizens and businesses to profit from the best offices in Europe, independent of where they are, open Internet, roaming, secure and resilient networks are important elements here. And the idea is for this package to be adopted by the Commission at the latest in the beginning of September, and it should be signed off by the heads of state and Government in the European Council in October.

We had a stakeholders event in Brussels on the 17th, so that was this Monday, in order to present our ideas. But just to say that the proposal is not finalized yet, so therefore I cannot give you much more details than now.

Also, Nellie talked about the grand coalition for digital jobs, which is one of the other big projects we have. There are many ICT vacancies, unfilled as you know. And we estimate now up to 900,000 vacancies by 2015. And as Nellie put it, and half of those jobs should be for girls and women. So that is important to keep in mind.

Since the launch conference of the grand coalition, which took place in the 4th and 5th of May, a number of stakeholders have made concrete pledges to the grand coalition, such as SUP, Christo, the Europe School Net, the Council of European Infomatics Societies, Microsoft, Oracle, Fast Track, IT and some more. So now we need to bring more stakeholders onboard.

And since the conference we have received many new pledges. And they were presented actually in Dublin. Many of these actions will be on a national scale to accommodate them. It would be useful to set up a national grand coalition that will encompass all the relevant stakeholders aiming to make a difference, if not similar words already exist.

I’m going back now to the events in Dublin. After having given you this flavor of what Nellie said, she said much more by the way, but just to give you some of the main messages.

And Nellie didn’t only meet with young advisers, but also the digital champions. All except for two of the now soon 28 member states in a few days have a champion, and these are driving forces for encouraging digitalization, promoting entrepreneurship – by the way, a lot of them are entrepreneurs by themselves – modernizing education. And education came out as a very, very strong theme among the digital champions, but also among the young advisers, and also in the session. But we got the message very, very clearly that there should be one of the priorities going forward.

And also getting more girls and women online and into coding is another of the priorities for some of the digital champions.

And Nellie has this group of advisers to give her straight advice. And by that I mean really unfiltered, uncensured, straight-off advice, that a commissioner perhaps not always gets, let’s face it, the way things work.

So this has proved to be very, very useful. And we can actually take great advantage from the knowledge that they are bringing to us.

So the Digital Assembly drove home the richness in Europe. The main ideas that thrive in all of our countries, and the fact that we are at a crossroads. And all of this is a rather worn metaphor, I’m aware of that, it is actually true. Because if we do not embrace our digital future, and that goes for both sexes, by the way, and take control of it, the initiative, the growth and the innovation risks happening somewhere else.

And with those words, I thank you very much for your attention.

Thank you.