I gave a press conference today on very important issues that you probably won’t read about in the newspaper tomorrow, so I want to tell you here.
Many people see the EU as a big accountant that is all about control and rules. Well, it’s about people and inspiring people as well as rules. It’s about creating opportunities that wouldn’t exist if we didn’t work together.
We conducted a comprehensive review of our Digital Agenda for Europe and it is going well. But that is not enough. Yesterday doesn’t count in the digital world – complacency is a killer. And Europe doesn’t have time.
The digital economy is growing seven times faster than the rest of the economy. If not for the digital economy then the EU would be in an even deeper recession. So we have to take our digital opportunities.
Today I am presenting a “to-do” list today, for 2013 and 2014. It is a wake-up call for some, a confirmation of reality for others. Broadband and jobs are the topics. But the message is that we need to take risks and push ourselves.
There is too much risk-avoiding in Brussels and in national capitals. That has to stop or Europe has no future.
I refuse to just tick off the list of actions we created in 2010. I don’t want that, that is lazy. Europe cannot afford laziness. That is why I am here today with new priorities.
This is personal for me. I am 71; I don’t have to do this job. But I want to. I want to because I am inspired by this new generation, and want them to see the value of Europe too. I don’t want to say in 2014 that I am ashamed of not speaking, or regretting not acting.
Europe needs this.
The seven actions you can see from our press release, and on the screen behind me, revolve around broadband and getting the economy moving.
Some of it we already started- like stabilising regulation for broadband through to 2020. In 2013 we will make that concrete, with a package of 10 actions just on broadband. It needs to be seen as a package, and it’s a balanced package. The markets have given positive reactions.
So the time for thinking and complaining is over. 2013 is all about doing.
There are some legislative elements – like the Cybersecurity Directive that is planned. But instead of just spending more money or writing more laws, in most cases in the digital world, you can do more and quicker by just bringing people together.
This is why we run so many dialogues – like with copyright; or build coalitions – like for kids online and to increase jobs and skills. Don’t take the lack of regulations and directives as a sign of weakness or a lack of ambition – it is a sign that our brains are working.
You need to see the Digital Agenda as a network of networks. Like the web entrepreneur conferences, the village broadband companies, the Campuseros from Campus Party, the digital champions, the open source community, my 60,000 followers on Twitter.
Speaking of the Digital Champions, here are inspirational leaders. Martha Lane Fox got millions online in the UK. Gergana Passy in Bulgaria and Paul Baran in Romania are just as good. Yesterday Ireland appointed David Puttnam – the Oscar winning film producer – to be the Irish Digital Champion. What an incredible start for the Irish Presidency! Just imagine what he will achieve with a bit of publicity in the next years. This is a huge endorsement of the Digital Agenda and what we can do together.
Another thing I want to do with all of you in this room is take you to see our amazing researchers in action in Leuven or Eindhoven. I can’t explain it, but when you see it you will understand. You will see why I think the digital world is limitless and why I think that we can create industrial success in Europe by thinking across borders. Why not a digital Airbus, or an Airbus for the chip sector? That scale of success is what you can get if you put borders aside, and work in partnership.
When it comes to jobs, I want you to know that the internet creates jobs. Probably four million if we implemented the whole Digital Agenda.
But more than that, I want Europeans to see that creating your own job is sexy – and the internet makes it possible. We need more people brave enough to take that opportunity.
I don’t have the words to describe the energy I get working with Europe’s web entrepreneurs and the activists in the digital world. I am determined to bring their voices into European debates and to share that energy.
We are all looking for reasons to hope at the moment. If you want hope – don’t spend all day looking for it in Brussels , go look at these entrepreneurs instead. They are building the future; they are growing faster than China.
Their ideas for policy too can be excellent. France’s Les Pigeons group told me, and rightly so, that we shouldn’t be talking about cutting the Erasmus programme at Council summits – we should be adding an “entrepreneur’s Erasmus programme” instead!
Whatever the specific ideas, please pay attention to the momentum of this movement. This energy is what Europe needs, and what the Digital Agenda works to provide.
I will work with every breath in 2013 and 2014 to give our young people, our entrepreneurs, the conditions and incentives they deserve, so we can all share in their achievements.