In the next years Europe will face major digital challenges. As a Union and under the Digital Decade Program we have adopted the goals that by 2030 half of Europe will have 5G coverage, every home will have access to a gigabyte fibre line, and 80% of our population will have digital skills allowing key public services such as healthcare to be digitalised and 90% of our SMEs to use digital tools.
“To say that these are ambitious goals is an understatement. That in 8 years’ time places with poor 4G coverage will have 5G, that rural schools with outdated equipment can graduate modern net citizens will be a struggle, that mum and pops SMEs will be online and earning enough to keep their lights on, it will be quite a feat. I however believe that we can do it. We can do it if we are ready to invest massively at a national level but also at a European Union level,” says Dita Charanzová MEP, Vice President of ALDE Party and the European Parliament, during our event with key public and private stakeholders of the digital sector on 22 June.
The event consisted of a reception where liberal politicians touched base on digital policy with members of the corporate world. It counted with speeches from Dita Charanzová MEP, Svenja Hahn MEP, Vice-President of the ALDE Party, Kostas Rossoglou, Head of Public Policy and Government Affairs Europe for Shopify and Erzsebet Fitori, Group Head of EU Affairs and Relations at Vodafone Group.
Charanzová highlighted the role of liberal politicians on digital policy: “Today, within the European Parliament, members from our ALDE Party are the leading voices for digital transformation, innovation and for open market and free trade. We are very much the kingmakers on this regard. The members that make sure that we ground regulations and proposals on common sense and that is not only driven by ideology.”
“ALDE Party has always been the voice that supports innovation. We support allowing individuals and businesses to experiment with new ideas, new ways to grow our economy and to improve society as a whole. We do this by finding practical solutions to promote competition while not creating overregulation. Government should not be our nanny but should be a partner in making a better Europe,” she added.
Hahn underlined the importance of artificial intelligence to develop the COVID-19 vaccines and how we need to make sure to include all kind of stakeholders in all decisions concerning this technology to profit from the possibilities it brings.
“For such a big change as the one AI can bring it is vital that we bring together all kinds of stakeholders: from society, from corporations, from parliaments, national and European. Because I think that we together as a society have to decide how do we want to steer that change,” she explains.
Rossoglou continued this line of thought praising the liberals’ openness to getting input from different stakeholders and encouraged policy makers to make legislation adapted to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
“It is good to have legislation for the big companies but if we want European companies to grow and to compete at the global scale, we need to adapt legislation to the needs of SMEs,” he affirmed.
Fitori doubled down on the policies needed to face the digital challenges ahead.
“What would be very important is not to have overregulation but to have a regulatory framework that is adapted to this new reality, to the new challenges. A framework that is designed specifically to achieve the Digital Decade targets. A framework that is designed specifically for us to be able to be resilient in the face of an extended Cold War or other challenges like a food or energy crisis in a digital enabled way,” she said.
The event was the first of a series called “Liberal Night” that aims to put in contact liberal politicians with key stakeholders on topical issues.
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You can access the pictures of the reception here.