Kroes details “problem of two Europes” – digital and analogue

Kroes details “problem of two Europes” – digital and analogue

22 OCT 2014

LIVE FROM BROADBAND WORLD FORUM 2014: Europe is a region being held back by a split between those embracing the possibilities of technology and those with an “analogue mindset”, Neelie Kroes, European Commission VP for the Digital Agenda, warned this morning.

“These are two Europes that rarely talk to each other. Two Europes that hold back all of Europe because they are not in sync,” she continued.

One Europe, she postulated, is “full of energy and digital ideas”, and has led to the creation of companies “from Skype to Spotify to SAP, from Rovio to Booking.com to Campus Party”.

“This is the Europe where half of new jobs come from – the ICT-enabled jobs. This Europe is mobile and flexible. This Europe hates barriers and looks for new opportunities,” she continued.

Contrastingly, there is a Europe that is “afraid of this digital future”.

“They worry about where the new middle class jobs will come from. They don’t want to jump off what they see as a digital cliff. They like the comforting idea of putting up walls; to many people it makes sense to restrict Americans and Asians and protect against their innovations. They tend to be older. They tend to want strong regulations protecting what they know, instead of taking a chance on what they don’t know,” Kroes said.

“Neither side is 100 per cent right. But corporate leaders and political leaders have a choice about how to lead people to the more realistic and hopeful side of those debates. They have a choice about how to approach their responsibility to lead,” she continued.

While Kroes is set to leave her position soon, her stance has not mellowed. Reflecting on her role as Digital Commissioner, she said that if she had her time again, “I would have pushed the telco industry harder in the face of inevitable changes in the digital value chain. They see the challenges but are locked into old business models and need an external push for change.”

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Steve Costello

Steve works across all of Mobile World Live’s channels and played a lead role in the launch and ongoing success of our apps and devices services. He has been a journalist...More

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