The European Union does not speak for Europe in the field of technology. This opinion was expressed by President and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) Alina Polyakova and program officer of the Digital Innovation Initiative at CEPA Matthew Eitel in a column for Politico.
According to them, the region’s policy in the field is determined by France and Germany. In contrast, Europe’s smaller but most technologically oriented members rarely feel heard in the halls of Brussels.
“Privately, officials from these countries say the Commission’s strategy will hamper innovation by imposing complex compliance rules on smaller companies that can’t afford to implement them,” they noted.
Officials in those countries also fear that foreign investment — especially from American investors, who are responsible for 76% of foreign investment in European tech companies — will decline as the Commission begins to go after big American tech firms. And many complain that Brexit has deprived Great Britain of its voice.
“While these concerns are rarely aired publicly, simply put, Central and Northern Europe know that when it comes to tech, the EU doesn’t speak for Europe,” CEPA emphasized.
Attention was drawn here to the fact that the EC, the European Council or the European Parliament do not have representatives of Central Europe at the head. Meanwhile, proportional representation in parliament means that France, Germany and Italy have the most votes (251). Even if all the countries of Northern, Baltic and Central Europe voted as a bloc, they would still have fewer votes (191).
“As a result, smaller countries then need to prioritize focusing on the most critical issues — defense and security — and the Parliament’s ability to set Europe’s tech agenda is then hamstrung by the Commission’s sole power to propose legislation,” CEPA explained.
At the same time, it was emphasized here that just as the balance of power in matters of defense and deterrence shifts to the east and north, so do economic factors when it comes to technological innovation and investment.
“For example, Helsinki, Stockholm and Tallinn have higher growth rates for capital invested in startups than London, Munich and Paris. And while unicorns — or firms valued at $1 billion or more and are still predominantly privately owned — in Western Europe still raise nearly double the amount of money as those in “new Europe,” the latter has the highest valuation-to-investment ratio on the Continent,” CEPA added.
According to experts, the problem is that the countries that set the technology rules are not the leading countries in the field of technology. So the tech-savvy countries of Europe should speak up when the Commission’s agenda is not in their interests.
“The future of tech innovation in Europe isn’t in France and Germany — it’s in Central and Eastern Europe. The region’s digital ecosystems are already driving innovation, setting global e-governance standards and attracting investment in startups. But so far, these like-minded European countries haven’t spoken with one voice on the kind of digital decade they would like to see,” the experts emphasized.
It was previously reported that the European Union supported strict precautionary measures, which will prohibit dangerous cases of using artificial intelligence. It is about the draft EU Law on AI, which was approved by two key committees: the Internal Market Committee and the Civil Liberties Committee.