European Digital agenda is for the people and Growth


European Digital agenda is for the people and Growth. It aims to create new jobs, digitize services, synergize integration, and common European standards in society and economy. It gives a framework for national governments to put emphasis, resources and specific plans towards the Insutries’ digital transformation. I’ve written this article in 2015, being a Network Society blogger. It’s still relevant for my country and others as well, but isn’t progressing at speed.

European Digital agenda is for the people and Growth

I don’t know Andrus Ansip, but he is doing an important and concrete job, and I respect him for that. He is Vice President (2014-19) for the Digital Single Market in the European Union. When he previously served as prime minister of Estonia, 2005-2014, he pushed and transformed the small country with a range of digital technology services (search e-Estonia) in any public action and transaction that you can imagine for the benefit of citizens and businesses.

He made technology a platform to fight back against corruption, and bring transparency and service to its highest levels. He devised a plan to invest in energy distribution (smart meters), to improve broadband infrastructure in every home and educational institution, and supported export-oriented startups with practical assistance and policies. That looks like a successful plan that can only attract further new investments and increased cooperation.

A few months ago Ansip presented the principles of the “enlarged” EU Digital Agenda. Since then he has been urging national governments to respond with concrete plans and actions for how to digitally transform their operations, citizen services, and help local markets improve by using technology. Few responses though…

I come from Greece, which is among the last-placed countries in digital-adoption rankings. Like many others, I would love to see a detailed plan drawn up and followed through. Why? We can’t live anymore in the “silos” and misconceptions of the past.

Digital what?!

You can’t have six-year-old kids, digital natives, being taught in school still on a whiteboard. We can’t progress if we ignore the European “School on the Cloud” initiative, which offers content and learning from any device, at any moment, for any user … while the same time operating costs for the “official” education systems increase without any increased ROI.

Who can live in a polluted city, full of traffic accidents and all-day congestion, when all these things can be systematically controlled and improved with a central coordination system that unites users with authorities, and drivers with traffic police? The European suggestions and best-cases are there, but the implementation in our cities is lacking project-approach.

The Digital Agenda is a framework, a mindset, to help each country improve and transform whatever is to serve larger urban populations, incremental service needs and a new citizen mindset. It calls for investment schemes in telecommunications infrastructure (catering to the new consumer habits), innovative digital services everywhere, investing in high-speed internet and secure networks, introducing privacy regulations (a key issue) to enhance confidence among all European internet users (72% doubt the privacy and security of their web services).

Stimuli to discuss and share

Named ‘the most advanced digital society in the world’ by Wired, ingenious Estonians are pathfinders, who have built an efficient, secure and transparent ecosystem that saves time and money. e-Estonia invites you to follow the digital journey. The Estonian dream is to have an as little state as possible, but as much as is necessary. Thanks to e-solutions, communications with the state are fast and convenient for all, and our country is more effective as a result.

The e-Estonia’s success relies on a clever infrastructure that has made it possible to build a safe e-services ecosystem. An important part of this ecosystem is flexibility and the ability to integrate its different parts while improving e-services and allowing government systems to grow. Business, State, Opening a company, Healthcare, Education and many more citizens services are already transformed. Have you wondered what initiatives they plan for in your country?

(source: e-Estonia)

The Industrial revolution of our times is only Digital. Europe needs the right scale of technologies, like cloud computing, data-driven science, and the Internet of Things to reach a full potential.

The 2017 Update

Progress is slow. Mobile operators and networks invest to mitigate on their service ‘faults’, but progressing usage and penetration. But I don’t see, reading the news, that governments do have a plan in place (rather a project plan with specific milestones and deadlines). For example, European data show that in the Member States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain), the deployment of cloud in the public sector is at a very early stage.

  1. EU POLITICAL LEADERS: still discuss the A.I competitive advantage: “EU unsure how to make most of A.I” (EU Observer), while they report limited progress in the Digital Agenda’s law and national progress
  2. EU TELECOM MINISTERS & EU PARLIAMENT: they have been asked to speed several digital legislative files before the end of 2017, with an internal policy document. “Digitalisation offers immense opportunities for innovation, growth, jobs and for ensuring our global competitiveness,” the document said, dated 9 October and published on the Statewatch website. Despite considerable progress, work in this area needs to be accelerated.
  3. MEMBER STATES: they continue to treat internet as a tax opportunity: “Tax on Internet ads among Europe’s proposals to plug digital tax gap” while few having an on-going execution plan (Techcrunch)
  4. OPERATORS: they lack behind in 5G investments, due to capital (EU’s largest telecoms have warned the European Commission that plans for the region to take a leading role in next-generation 5G mobile services are in danger of becoming a “pipe dream” given the capital constraints on the sector …they’ve lost big-time revenue from roaming…): “5G… a pipe dream” (Financial Times)
  5. US INTERNET COMPANIES UNDER EU SCRUTINY: some examples are Google for taxation, Facebook and WhatsApp facing EU data protection body (for sharing telephone numbers with all FB family-companies).
  6. NEXT, IRELAND 2018: Ireland will host best practices’ summit to discuss Digital Agenda progress – note: Ireland is regarded to be a digital frontrunner, hosting so many companies and talent, while progressing Digital Single Market as a vital component in driving the country forward (Siliconrepublic)

My view on the issue

My view is that Digital Single market will progress even slower in Europe, due to the non-alignment and bureaucratic mentality of EU national governments. Of course operators, new media content providers, and startups will continue to do disruptive business, but the end-user / citizen will need long to unify governance, services, and own experiences …from the postal service, up to the e-government.

Unfortunately, hecklers and haters are not the only issues that tolerate governments’ performance (or the citizen groups’ push for lower taxes and more benefits). The real issue at hand is that governments and institutions are governed by older people, not being updated and aware of the greater good they can deliver through integrating digital policies and services in our lives.

They are still living in the 80’s world. The few best cases that you see in smart cities, networks’ deployment, mobile payments, and innovation patents are the small ‘oasis’, that is fighting against many obstacles, bureaucracy, and old-mindset.

If only we could have open data on the issue, to monitor national plans in place… You see, the No1 agenda for Growth of our times is progressing like a turtle in Europe.

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