Guy visited one of the main tech capitals of Europe, Dublin, together with Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for the digital agenda. They went on fact finding mission and met with young entrepreneurs at Wayra and will visit Google this afternoon.
During today's roundtable at Wayra Verhofstadt presented his four priorities for an ambitious "Digital Fast Forward" to make Europe regain its digital competitiveness.
As President of the European Commission he will push for the following four priorities:
1) A "European Mobile WIFI Plan" to roll out "municipal wireless networks" to turn European cities into Wireless Access Zones. Verhofstadt explains: "We should strive to make wireless access to the Internet a universal service. It saves people money, it provides job opportunities, it facilitates innovation and it will make European cities more tech-friendly."
2) Shift the focus in the European budget from agriculture to digital. Verhofstadt wants to see more ambition: "In the current budget, Europe will spend 277 billion Euros on the Common Agricultural Policy, but only 1 billion on the roll out of high speed internet. Let's start to spend a smaller percentage on cows and start to invest in high speed broadband, in digital training and education to give youngsters more chances to get a job and an ecosystem of entrepreneurs across Europe."
3) Pooling resources to spur investments. Verhofstadt proposes to create a joint finance vehicle between the European Investment Bank and the European Commission to provide cheap credits for innovative start-ups.
4) Make privacy and competitiveness go hand in hand. Verhofstadt elaborates: "Privacy should not be seen as a restriction on innovation. Smart privacy regulation can and should be an incentive to develop new applications and technologies. Just as the carbon emission standards delivered more efficient and cleaner cars, privacy protection can kick-start our own European technology environment. As Commission President I will defend the "right to be forgotten" and "privacy by default. We should not be a copycat of American tech firms, but develop our own competitive edge which is as innovative as the others, but with better privacy protection."
10 June 2014Verhofstadt message to European leaders: Europe needs reform, not rejection
27 May 2014Guy Verhofstadt attended the liberal prime ministers' meeting today ahead of the informal European Council
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