LISBON, Portugal, Dec. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --
- The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, discussed how the global pandemic has served as a catalyst for innovation, especially in Europe. In 2020 alone, the value of European tech companies has risen by almost 50 percent and the value has quadrupled in the last five years.
- Because Europe faces unique regulatory and infrastructure obstacles, it "punches below its weight," von der Leyen said. In response, the European Commission will invest in a recovery plan called Next Generation EU worth €750 billion, with 20 percent going toward digital investment.
- President von der Leyen also announced that the Commission would be "rewriting the rule book for our digital market," so that what is illegal offline will be illegal online too, from selling unsafe products to spreading hate speech. "If illegal content is notified by the competent national authorities, it must be taken down," she said.
- Speaking at 100,000-attendee online conference Web Summit, Von der Leyen is part of a line-up that includes Casey Bloys and Andy Forssell from HBO Max, tennis great Serena Williams, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
As Europe's tech sector comes of age, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that Europe possesses incredible potential to be a global leader in the next wave of digital transformation.
President von der Leyen, who referred to herself as a "tech optimist," was giving a keynote address during 100,000-attendee online conference Web Summit.
In her speech, the Commission president touted the power of the European tech sector, explaining that the continent has the largest number of top AI researchers anywhere in the world, and more software developers than in the United States. She also called the pandemic a catalyst and accelerator for changes that have been in the works for some time, especially in venture capital.
"Europe is attracting more capital for startups at seed stage than any other region in the world," von der Leyen said. "In the last five years, the value of European tech companies has quadrupled."
Despite all of these strides, though, she said Europe is "punching below its weight" because of a number of obstacles that competitors in other parts of the world don't face: gaps in infrastructure, regulatory complexity, and bureaucratic barriers when trying to scale up beyond national borders.
"As a result, too many European startups have left our shores in order to grow," von der Leyen said.
In order to combat this, the European Commission will invest in a recovery plan called Next Generation EU worth €750 billion, with 20 percent going toward digital investments. It will promote common data spaces to foster industry collaboration and innovation around data, von der Leyen said.
She also announced that the Commission would be "rewriting the rule book for our digital market" so that what is illegal offline will be illegal online, from selling unsafe products to spreading hate speech.
"No one expects all digital platforms to check all the user content that they host. This would be a threat to everyone's freedom to speak their mind," she said. "If illegal content is notified by the competent national authorities, it must be taken down."
The largest social media platforms must have greater scrutiny and responsibility, Von Der Leyen continued during the Web Summit speech: "With greater power and social influence should come greater responsibility. A responsibility not just to act when notified but also a responsibility to assess the risks of their advertising system or their content moderation. A responsibility about how those systems work. A responsibility to accept scrutiny and audit."
The Commission president announced that there will be one set of core digital rules across Europe, which will be changed through the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act. "The European single market must also function in the digital world," she said.
About Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula is the current president of the European Commission. She was the first woman in Germany to serve as minister for social affairs and as minister of defence and, in 2019, became the first woman to be elected president of the European Commission.
About Web Summit
In the words of Inc. Magazine, "Web Summit is the largest technology conference in the world." Forbes says Web Summit is "the best tech conference on the planet," Bloomberg calls it "Davos for geeks," Politico "the Olympics of tech," and the Guardian "Glastonbury for geeks."
Web Summit website: https://websummit.com
Web Summit Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/websummit/albums/
Web Summit YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJtkHqH4Qof97TSx7BzE5IQ
SOURCE Web Summit