ERT on Digitisation - follow-up meeting with President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel and President Juncker

27 October 2015

Press Statement by Benoît Potier, ERT Chairman

Paris, 27 October 2015

As Chairman of the European Round Table of Industrialists, I am grateful to President Hollande for inviting ERT to discuss digitisation and its role in safeguarding and strengthening Europe’s competitiveness.

Boosting European companies’ role in tomorrow’s international digital scene is crucial and we are ready to discuss these issues further with all stakeholders to maintain Europe’s place on the global map of the 21st century.

Benoît Potier
Benoît Potier
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Air Liquide Group

Following our dinner with Chancellor Merkel and Presidents Hollande and Juncker in June this year, ERT has met with Vice-President Ansip and Commissioners Oettinger, Moedas, Bieńkowska and Vestager. I would like to thank each of them for the excellent discussions. Today, I want to stress four points.

Firstly, we need to create an environment that boosts innovation and investment in Europe. As our economy becomes ever more data-driven while the physical capacity of our networks remains limited - at least in the short term, we must clearly define who can access a network under which conditions. Some applications, for example those connected with safety and security, should get priority access over, for example, leisure activities. Investors need a coherent and stable framework before they will invest.

Secondly, the decision making process at EU and national level should be streamlined in order to keep pace with fast-moving technological developments on a global scale. Also, European competition policy should acknowledge the global reach and the dynamics of the digital economy. Competition policy should enable European companies to take key roles in the international market.

Thirdly, a harmonised and coherent EU-wide legal framework ensures that Europe can fully benefit from the size of its Single Market. Data privacy, for example, can best be defined at European level with a harmonised national implementation and also interpretation in the Member States.

Lastly, a vibrant economy – and especially the digital economy – needs startups and entrepreneurship. This is essential for building a sound digital ecosystem of large and small companies, which contribute to developing successful new technologies. Large companies such as those represented in ERT already work to encourage and support start-ups and will continue to do so. The European Commission and the Member States could consider setting up Special Digital Zones – which already exist in some parts of the world – to combine experiences from businesses, universities and research centres.

Boosting European companies’ role in tomorrow’s international digital scene is crucial and we are ready to discuss these issues further with all stakeholders to maintain Europe’s place on the global map of the 21st century.