(English) Helping European industry to turn digital

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Speech by European Commission Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, at DIGITALEUROPE’s event Europe’s Digital Prospects: Masters of Digital or Mastered by Digital? in Brussels

Ladies and gentlemen,

Industry is the main driving force of Europe’s economy.

It manufactures, it employs and exports. To keep up as the world turns more digital, it will have to turn more digital itself.

In the future, all industrial sectors must make the best use of new technologies. Transport to telecom equipment, factories to farming, high-tech to low-tech.

The European Commission wants to get industry digital as far as possible.

We want to boost innovation in new growth areas: the data economy, the Internet of Things, high-performance cloud computing.

We want to boost innovation in traditionally strong European sectors like engineering, health, logistics.

We want to promote common technical standards and e-government services.

In the coming days, we will present a package of Digital Single Market initiatives designed to achieve this. It will strengthen digital innovation and technology across all economic sectors.


It explains our vision for industry within the plan for building the Digital Single Market. What is the bottom line?

  • to make sure that European industry is in a position to compete strongly in digital technologies;
  • to make sure that every industry in Europe whichever sector, whatever size, wherever the location – can get the full benefit from digital innovation.

In concrete terms, this is about:

  • building and expanding infrastructure for data analytics in Europe;
  • giving our businesses interoperable systems across borders for interacting with administrations. And only having to give out information once;
  • strengthening trust in cloud services for SMEs;
  • making standard-setting a strategic priority for Europe;
  • creating a seamless plug-and-play environment for the Internet of Things in the Digital Single Market;
  • coordinating new national industry strategies for the best effect on the ground;
  • and giving Europe’s workforce the digital skills they need to fill future jobs.

In short, this package is about creating the right environment for our industry’s digital future.

As a starting point, it is essential to attract more investment into digitised industry: high-performance computing facilities and data infrastructure for science and engineering.

A good way to do this is by pooling public and private resources to leverage investment.

We plan to improve coordination and efficiency of the EU’s many research and developments programmes so they become a solid vehicle for EU-wide investment in digital.

More than 30 national and regional initiatives for digitising industry have been launched over the last few years: like Industrie 4.0 in Germany, Smart Industry in the Netherlands, Industrie du Futur in France.

They are all welcome and needed, of course. But what they achieve may be put at risk on a wider European scale if everyone goes their own way, without taking others into account.

If we are to speed up technology’s integration across all industry sectors, we should work collectively.

This is why the Commission will support national and regional coordination to digitise industry, monitoring progress and aligning strategies where possible.

Ladies and gentlemen,

European industry’s future will clearly be based on data:

  • data in new and exciting forms;
  • different uses of data that bring their own challenges;
  • innovative data-driven business models;
  • and a rapidly changing industrial environment.

Cloud computing is a good example.

This sector’s market size is due to expand massively in the next few years. Why?

It is thanks to vast amounts of data generated by digital technologies, processed and analysed in ways and at speeds that were unimaginable until just recently.

However, the gap is widening in Europe between production of data and the capacity to process it using high-performance computing.

To avoid the real risk of falling behind when others are racing ahead, we have designed the European Cloud Initiative. It will boost innovation capacity across scientific disciplines and industrial sectors.

That means real, physical capacity – in the form of world-class cloud and data infrastructure for science and engineering.

The plan is to blend different sources of national and EU funding, with investment leveraged from the private sector, to support new data infrastructure over the next five years.

Next-generation high-performance computing will bring large-scale data handling capacity to the fingertips of any scientist and engineer in the EU.

It will allow Europe to compete and thrive in the global data economy.

We also plan to improve certification mechanisms to strengthen trust in cloud computing and encourage take-up of cloud services.

The exponential growth in data also affects the public sector, since it produces and gathers a wide range of information.

Digitising public services is an obvious way to reduce administrative burden and costs – and to raise efficiency and service quality, especially for businesses.

The next e-government action plan will address how to make life easier for businesses operating across borders:

How to support them in their dealings with public administrations. How to help companies grow quicker across the large EU single market.

We want to start putting the ‘once-only’ approach more widely into practice.

In itself, that could save some €5 billion per year by 2017.

But whether we are talking about cloud infrastructure, the Internet of Things or e-government databases, first there must be compatibility.

Systems, devices and networks have to be able to ‘talk’ with each other for data to flow smoothly, given the advent of 5G networks and growth in big data.

Technologies are changing faster than ever.

Boundaries between technologies are becoming blurred. Your phone is now both your car navigation system and your health monitor, at the same time.

This type of convergence challenges conventional standard-setting processes and how standards bodies work with each other.

The problem will only get worse as digital technologies become more commonplace, and the pace of innovation faster.

High-quality standards and interoperability are basic building blocks for the Digital Single Market. They are the ‘glue’ that holds its different parts together.

They allow innovators to scale up their products, and to compete globally.

But we must get this right.

Today, many key digital technologies are lost in a jungle of standards, and a plethora of standard-setting bodies.

Standards are a highly strategic area; Essential for raising the competitiveness of European industry.

We identify five areas that are critical to the success of the Digital Single Market, where ICT standardisation is the most urgent.

These are:

  • 5G communications,
  • cloud computing,
  • the Internet of Things,
  • big data and
  • cybersecurity.

Together they will shape the success of European industry.

Standard-setting is vital for industrial and innovation leadership. The starting point will be to map and assess what can be streamlined and simplified.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I hope I have given you a flavour of how we plan to move forward, equipping European industry with EU wide tools to go digital.

We are building the foundations for our digital future. That is why we have to act, and act now.  Industry itself has asked us to do this.

Going digital is a complex operation and almost every aspect of our lives is affected. This is only the beginning.

The Digital Single Market strategy gives European industry the chance to be at the cutting edge of technological progress – to get ahead, to prepare for the future by removing the barriers of the past and present.

If we are to avoid missing out on the tremendous business and employment opportunities that digitising industry will bring, then there is no time to lose.

Thank you.

Source: The European Commission