The Executive Chairman of Google has said that Europe will play a leading role in the global digital economy if it backs a single digital market.
Writing a blog for a new European Commission series titled “Boosting Digital Europe”, Eric Schmidt said Europe must “redouble” its commitment to the single market and “steel its nerve” to permit disruptive innovations.
The EC, led by Commissioner Neelie Kroes, is pushing for a digital single market as part of her Connected Continent reform.
Telcos agree that reform is required, but are concerned that the reforms will not provide a level playing field and would also help internet companies such as Google who are not investing in infrastructure.
In his blog, Schmidt said that he “agrees completely” with EC President Jean-Claude Juncker’s call to end the regulatory silos in telecoms and copyright regulation, in data protection and in the application of European competition rules.
“Europe needs to reform and forge a true digital single market. It’s time for action. Instead of riding the wave of technological change and innovation, inaction will put Europe’s economy at risk,” Schmidt wrote.
“If Europe’s single market becomes truly and thoroughly digital, the macroeconomic benefits would be enormous. Reform could raise the EU’s GDP by at least four percent by 2020, and generate up to €250 billion of additional growth.”
Citing taxi app Uber as an example, he added: “Most of all, Europe needs to accept and embrace disruption. The old ways of doing things need to face competition that forces them to innovate.”
He did not mention telcos explicitly once during his 1400 word feature.
In a blog introducing the Digital Minds series, Kroes wrote: “To fully exploit this potential the rapid completion of the digital single market Still is pivotal. It is the jewel in the crown of a united Europe and can bring progress and prosperity to its citizens.
“A lot still needs to be done, but is within reach if we put our minds, investments and efforts to it.”
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