Luxembourg’s digital minister and prime minister likened the digital single market to the “Loch Ness Monster”, saying, “everybody speaks about it but no-one has seen it.”
Xavier Bettel was speaking to a packed room on the first day of the the ICT Spring & Space Summit, hosted at the Luxembourg Congress in Kirchberg.
The European Commission strategy, which enables individuals and businesses to engage in online activities under common conditions, irrespective of nationality or residence, was adopted in 2015. While it had delivered 16 specific initiatives by January 2017, Bettel clearly was not happy with the pace of progress with regard to regulation for startups which, for example, currently require multiple lawyers in different countries to operate in Europe.
“For Amazon it’s OK to have 28 lawyers in 28 different countries to prepare bills to be ready and meet all the conditions to open a company. But if you’re a small startup and want to be successful in the European region and you need 28 lawyers worldwide. It’s a nightmare!” Bettel said.
The leader underlined the need for openness and bringing people together to move with the technological revolution and drive innovative new technologies. Bringing people together, he said, was part of the grand duchy’s DNA, citing the country’s multicultural demography. Just as Luxembourg had brought down barriers in removing the walls of its fortress following the Treaty of London, Bettel said he hoped to do the same for the metaphorical barriers to digital adoption.
The prime minister talked about upskilling, and touched on some of the digital training projects active in the country, for instance the digital skills bridge, offering training to companies to avoid employees being made redundant, and fit4code.
“We need education we need to prepare next generations for the jobs it will create. Some jobs will disappear. Already some did. If we’re not ready with the younger generation to be able to occupy these jobs, we will have to take people from Asia and America to occupy these jobs that we create,” he said.
Finally, Bettel reminded attendees why it was important to be part of the digital transformation saying “we cannot live in a tech vacuum. Digitalisation is about people.” And people, Bettel said, should not be at the service of technology but the other way around.
Some 5,000 people are participating in this year’s ICT Spring & Space summit which runs from 15 to 16 May.