“One Europe, one Digital Single Market”: Report on the Digital Assembly 2015 in Riga

The Digital Assembly 2015 is the most important IT and telecommunications event under the Latvian EU Presidency. As part of the European ICT Community, atene KOM participated in the two-day event in the Latvian National Library and established contact with a variety of European stakeholders

In two plenary sessions and seven workshops, key issues around the digital single market strategy and the future of the European digital policy were discussed and deepened. Invitees of this event were official representatives of the EU Member States and -Commission, industry experts, technology developers and consulting partners.

Day 1

The 17th of June, the Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma opened up the event and called for the strengthening of the European Digital Single Market. An expansion of the single market is of great importance for the global competitiveness of the European Union (EU). The Latvian Presidency of the EU Council would continue to work towards this goal until the last moment, emphasized Prime Minister Straujuma.

Markku Markkula, Chairman of the Committee of the Regions and President of the “Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group” (OISPG) gave a presentation on Open Innovation 2.0. Markkula presented a Quadruple Helix model of innovation that involves institutional facilities, research sphere, business and citizens in the process. This new generation of Open Innovation should strengthen the European economy and allow for a better user experience. For that reason, Europe needs more cooperation and partnerships.

Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands held the inspirational speech “TEDx style”, in which she considered the library as a uniting factor in a society of change. The princess emphasized the importance of education in the EU, in which also the information and communication technology sector (ICT) has its share.

In further inspirational speeches about the Digital Single Market, companies from all over Europe presented their projects and demonstrated innovation drivers and inhibitors. Innovation inhibitors could be reduced by more commoditization. An expansion of the Digital Single Market would lead to simpler processes and less administrative obstacles. Therefore more startups and businesses would settle in the EU.

Day 2

In a Hard Talk discussion Robert Madelin, Director General of DG Connect, said one of the main challenges is to get 28 smart and proud nations to work together in the field of digitalisation. In copyright law, practical solutions have to be found. Europe should create a Digital Single Market which regulates the availability of legal content under fair and reasonable conditions.

The workshop “A connected Digital Single Market” offered a panel discussion with Robert Viola, Deputy Director of DG Connect. The participants agreed that further networking would attract private investments. The fact that the main driver for investment is competition remains. In terms of subsidies, funding makes only sense where the market fails. However, due to EU-wide differences, flexible solutions, strategies and regulations are required. There is no panacea; a number of different tools should be used. After all, 28 Member States means “One size doesn’t fit all”.

In his speech, Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, referred to the new European Fonds for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI want to overcome investment gaps in the EU. The Fund invests in infrastructure and innovation as well as in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). The EFSI offers flexible financing solutions and is supposed to create opportunities also for rural areas. Oettinger stressed that cooperation between the public and private sector was always important.

Kaspars Gerhards, Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia, stressed in his conclusion the importance of the Digital Single Market strategy for the EU. It is one of the most promising and challenging areas, where progress takes place. He looked forward to a good cooperation between Member States, the Council and the Commission in the implementation of all objectives.

The event was recorded through video-streaming. Images of Digital Assembly can be found here. The full report of the EU Commission on the event can be read here.

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