‘The Next European Commission President Needs to be a Digital President’

By digitalchampion  | May 14, 2014

Open Letter to the Spitzenkandidaten (Lead Contenders) for 

President of the European Commission

‘The Next European Commission President
Needs to be a Digital President’

European Union Digital Champions call on presidential candidates
to present a digital strategy fit for the 21st century
To the Spitzenkandidaten for President of the European Commission:
We are writing to you in our capacity as advisers to the European Commission in
the field of digital agenda. Against this backdrop, we firmly believe that the next
president of the European Commission needs to be a digital president, uniting
behind this four-point agenda.
1. There is no “digital economy” – the economy is digital. The Internet and
digital communications are general-purpose technologies, transforming
our economies as profoundly as the steam engine did in the 18th century
or electricity did in the 19th century. This calls for the next European
Commission leader to streamline the digital portfolio across all key
dossiers – and ultimately taking the responsibility for success in this
crucial area.

2. There can be no convincing strategy for delivering growth and creating
jobs without significantly accelerating Europe’s performance on digital
advancement. Digital technologies and the Internet contributed to over
20% of economic growth in the world’s most advanced economies in the
period 2004-2009, and looking forward, the digital sector is expected to
grow seven times faster than overall European Union (EU) gross domestic
product in coming years. It is also key to solving Europe’s unemployment
problem: despite a record number of people out of work, employers are
scrambling to find candidates with digital skills – by 2020 there will be up
to one million unfilled vacancies for information and communications
technology (ICT) practitioners across the EU. Closing this skills gap – and
connecting it to a generation of young digital natives that is finding entry
into the labour market difficult – is an opportunity that cannot be missed.
That’s why we encourage the next European Commission president to
continue – and build on – the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs.
3. A competitive, dynamic economy operating at the leading edge of digital
technologies is the only way forward – but it cannot sit on top of an
outdated, under-invested digital infrastructure. Modest estimates put the
price tag at up to ?200 billion to meet the 2020 digital broadband targets.
This investment in the very foundation of future growth and job creation
can no longer be postponed. It needs to be a top priority for the incoming
leadership of the European Commission, working in tandem with the
member states and key stakeholders to produce a convincing time table
with real deliverables and deadlines.
4. Tech entrepreneurship will be crucial in powering the economic recovery
and create the jobs that Europe so urgently needs. According to the OECD,
the vast majority of new jobs are created by companies five years old or
younger. The app economy workforce alone is set to go from 1.8 million
in 2013 to 4.8 million by 2018, more than tripling its revenues from ?17.5
billion to ?63 billion in the same time span. The potential is huge – and it
calls on policy makers to recognise the importance of founders and start-ups in modern, dynamic economies. That is why we call on you to pledge
your support to the Startup Manifesto and incorporate its
recommendations in your political programme.
As individuals operating at the leading edge of innovation and technology, we are
eager to learn more about your digital strategies and encourage you to start
developing them at an early stage. We invite you to share your vision for a
connected, wired and dynamic Europe as soon as possible, allowing voters to
make an informed choice at the European elections on 22-25 May 2014.
Signed by:
Gilles Babinet, Digital Champion of France
Paul-Andre Baran, Digital Champion of Romania
Istv?n Er?nyi, Digital Champion of Hungary
Ond?ej Felix, Digital Champion of the Czech Republic
Jan Gulliksen, Digital Champion of Sweden
Stelios Himonas, Digital Champion of Cyprus
Gesche Joost, Digital Champion of Germany
K?stutis Ju?kevi?ius, Digital Champion of Lithuania
Linda Liukas, Digital Champion of Finland
W?odzimierz Marci?ski, Digital Champion of Poland
Ant?nio Murta, Digital Champion of Portugal
Tineke Netelenbos, Digital Champion of the Netherlands
Bj?rn Ottersten, Digital Champion of Luxembourg
Darko Pari?, Digital Champion of Croatia
Gergana Passy, Digital Champion of Bulgaria
Peter Pellegrini, Digital Champion of the Slovak Republic
Ale? ?peti?, Digital Champion of Slovenia
Godfrey Vella, Digital Champion of Malta
Reinis Zitmanis, Digital Champion of Latvia


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