Two weeks before the European Commission (EC) presents its long-term strategy for building a digital single market, EC vice president for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip, warned Europe needs to up its app production game, which is growing but “at a slower rate than the global app economy.”
“Around one-fifth of the global production of app-related products and services comes from Europe. I think this market share could be a lot higher,” said Ansip (pictured) at a conference organised by Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) called ‘The Only Way is App’.
To make that happen, argued Ansip, a well-functioning digital single market is essential, without which it is difficult for new ventures to emerge and scale-up in Europe and for start-ups to recruit and retain the right talent to fill job vacancies.
Ansip believes apps are part of a new wave of advanced digital technologies with “massive potential to stimulate economic growth and create jobs”.
He pointed out certain barriers that tech companies face, such as interoperability issues between platforms and regulatory differences like copyright and consumer laws.
“Regulation should really not be an obstacle to the development of new products and business models,” he commented.
He said the EC’s new strategy for building a digital single market is based on three main pillars, all of which he believes are relevant to Europe’s app economy: improving access to online goods and services across Europe; creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish; and maximising the growth potential of the digital economy.
“Our objective is to create an environment where innovative web entrepreneurs and other innovative businesses can take full advantage of their potential; a flexible and supportive business environment for start-ups and entrepreneurs,” he said.
The Commission will also address areas like unjustified geo-blocking, ICT standardisation and interoperability, wireless and broadband connectivity and also try to minimise the administrative burden on businesses that arise from the EU’s different VAT regimes, as a way to encourage cross-border online trade.
He added that longstanding EU programmes like StartUp Europe remain important and encouraged national start-up initiatives to work together to “create a truly European start-up friendly space.”
Last month, Ansip told Mobile World Live that Europe needs to “create a really good environment for our companies to scale up” to avoid a brain drain and create opportunity for telecom businesses to make a profitable return.
But in a speech shortly afterwards he admitted that the campaign for a single digital market was “an uphill struggle”.