DG Connect pays us a visit

Yesterday, we welcomed Mr Robert Madelin, Director General of DG Connect, to the FH offices for a high-level roundtable debate. Mr Madelin provided his insights on the mid-term review of the Digital Agenda to around 40 senior executives from a wide range of ICT sector companies and trade associations.

The event was held under Chatham House rules, so I can’t reveal the details. However, here are a few general and personal observations on the event as well as the ICT sector in the EU more broadly:

  • Numerous key themes were addressed in the debate – broadband, public digital service infrastructures, cyber security, cloud, copyright and electronics industrial strategy – indicating that there will be plenty of areas in which organizations will need to engage at EU level in 2013-14.
  • As ever, Madelin was frank and charming.  Throughout his years at the Commission (from DG Trade to Health and Consumer affairs into the ICT world) his ability to be pragmatic and inspiring in equal measure remains intact.
  • The scope and ambition of his vision for ICT in Europe reminded me of the speech that Commissioner Kroes made in mid-December announcing the seven priorities for the digital economy and society: “yesterday doesn’t count in the digital world… complacency is a killer…. Europe cannot afford laziness….2013 is all about doing.” Stirring stuff!
  • Although facts and figures for ICT are impressive (e.g. ICT accounts for 6% of the EU’s GDP and  the digital economy is growing at 7 times the rate of the rest of the economy), it’s great to note that behind the data we have smart, passionate policy-makers who want to make it happen. At the risk of getting too emotive, it’s one of the real reasons I like public affairs in Brussels – people are passionate about the EU and despite the current despondency, being part of the machinery remains exciting.