Guido Lobrano photo
The Importance of the European Union’s ICT Ecosystem

It is an exciting time to be working on technology policy. Right now, the world is having a discussion on how best to govern and create policies around emerging technology like artificial intelligence, digital taxation, and data flows. We want to not only be a part of the conversation but we want to constructive and work with governments around the globe to create policies that will protect consumers while not impeding innovation.

That is why this week ITI’s Josh Kallmer, Ashley Friedman, and Guido Lobrano traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, for the EU Digital Assembly meeting, where stakeholders from technology companies, member state governments, and the European Union discussed opportunities and challenges for the digitalization of the global economy.

Europe’s economy pioneers innovation and enhances the interconnectedness of the global community. Embracing digital innovation will help Europe overcome complex challenges and create new opportunities for job growth. By 2020, data innovation will account for as much as 4% of Europe’s total GDP.

Today, Europe is a leader in several segments of the digital economy, such as app development, where revenues account for just under a third of the global market. Six EU Member States rank among the top 20 countries in the world with most app developers. It’s estimated that every app developer job in the EU creates an additional 1.31 non-technical and indirect jobs, on average. Other rapidly growing segments in the digital sphere include cybersecurity and software development. The diversity of continent allows for different regions to claim expertise in unique technologies. Northern Europe, for example, has developed a niche as a hotbed for blockchain technology advancement.

Additionally, analysis of consumer trends shows that the increased usage of mobile devices has brought significant changes to the way that people shop, share information, and communicate, allowing consumers to have more personalized and accessible experiences because of new technologies. By the end of 2016, there were over 450 million unique mobile subscribers in Europe, accounting for 84% of the population. This growth is enabled by growing mobile coverage, increasingly reliable data connections, and improved mobile-device functionality. The mobile economy generated approximately €75 billion of revenues in the five biggest EU countries, a figure expected to grow by 25% annually.

However, there are some issues in the EU that we are following closely to ensure we can avoid unintended consequences that could stifle job creation and chill investment. Some of that work includes improving the EU’s digital taxation proposal, implementing GDPR smoothly, and redirecting misguided policies like ePrivacy.

As the EU Presidency transitions from Bulgaria to Austria, ITI is also in Vienna this week, and we look forward to supporting the goals of Austrian and EU policymakers to expand access to technology and the benefits to society and the global economy that this access enables. This week’s trip to Sofia and Vienna is just the first step; the conversation must continue on both sides of the Atlantic to support the development of policies and initiatives that support the growth of digital technologies.