Three parliamentary committees will quiz Commissioner Günther Oettinger about his new portfolio for Budget and Human Resources, which Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has asked him to take over from former Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.
After the meeting, the coordinators of the committees for Budgets, Budgetary Control and Legal Affairs will meet separately in camera for an assessment. A joint evaluation letter will be submitted to the Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders), which will discuss the matter on 12 January.
The written questions and Mr Oettinger’s replies are here.
The meeting will take place in Brussels in the Paul-Henri Spaak building (PHS), room 3C50, on Monday, 9 January from 18:00 to 20:30.
Today, the Commission is launching the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, together with Member States, companies, social partners, NGOs and education providers, to help meet the high demand for digital skills in Europe which are essential in today’s job market and society. The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is one of the ten key initiatives proposed by the Commission under the New Skills Agenda for Europe, presented in June this year. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market said: “Allowing more people to develop digital skills is like giving a ticket to the digital economy. We cannot build the Digital Single Market in Europe without addressing the digital skills gap. The launch of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is a milestone in our joint effort to increase everyone’s digital skills in Europe.” (read his speech). Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society added: “The lack of digital skills is already hampering innovation and growth in Europe. Not just for ICT companies but for organisations in all sectors – private and public. We must remove this obstacle to make sure Europeans get the jobs they deserve and our businesses have access to a large pool of digital talent.”
Commission services are today launching a Task Force on Financial Technology (TFFT) that aims to assess and make the most of innovation in this area, while also developing strategies to address the potential challenges that FinTech poses. The work of this Task Force builds on the Commission’s goal to develop a comprehensive strategy on FinTech. Technological development provides great opportunities for existing financial institutions, alternative service providers and new business models, provided that any risks are carefully managed. This internal Task Force brings together the expertise of Commission staff across several areas, such as: financial and digital services, digital innovation and security, competition and consumer protection. It will also engage with stakeholders and present policy suggestions and recommendations in the first half of 2017. Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: “We see technological innovation in finance as a development that we need to encourage and enable. It brings huge opportunities for consumers and for industry, both by established players and new Fintech firms. Our Task Force will help us make sure that our policy supports the pursuit of these opportunities, while addressing any risks that may emerge. Efficient financial markets need to make the best possible use of the opportunities that technology presents, while also preserving competition and making sure that new operating systems are safe.”Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger said: “Digital innovation is transforming the entire economy and in particular the financial services sector. It disrupts business models and value chains, leads to the emergence of new players and services. The Digital Single Market strategy aims at laying down an appropriate framework and enabling solutions concerning for instance electronic authentication or cybersecurity. Our ambition is to foster financial innovation while preserving financial stability and protecting consumers and investors.”
Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger was this morning at the Frankfurt Book Fair to discuss the Commission’s recent proposals to modernise copyright and to open the final of the startup accelerator CONTENTshift, a three-month funding programme designed to boost startups active in the publishing industry. Commissioner Oettinger said: “These innovative startups show once again that Europe has a very strong and high-quality content industry with an exceptional creative potential. Several of our recent and upcoming initiatives ensure this sector and its startups make the most of digital opportunities.” The final of CONTENTshift represents one of the many events dedicated to startups this week, in the EU and beyond. For example, as part the Startup Europe comes to Universities initiative taking place this week, entrepreneurs and representatives of local governments are sharing their experience with students in 35 universities across 15 EU countries as well as Albania and Israel. Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip welcomed this new initiative on his blog: “Universities are in a unique position to instil and promote a sense of entrepreneurship in students before they graduate. This will allow them to pool expertise and experience, linking up with local government, industry and business as well as with other startup networks.” The Commission will soon present its initiative to support startups and scaleups as part of its Single Market Strategyand it will also propose to adapt EU VAT rules so that they fit better for small e-commerce businesses.
Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, will visit the United States from 7-11 October to the discuss the Digital Single Market strategy and other digital issues with representatives of the US government, the tech industry and other international organisations. Today and tomorrow in Washington, D.C., the Commissioner will meet US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Mr Bruce Andrews and will also speak with senior members of the World Bank, including in a panel discussion on creating an enabling environment for digital development. Next week, from 9-10 October in Seattle, the Commissioner will meet CEOs and top-level industry representatives from companies including Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon to discuss issues including the recent telecoms proposals, the data economy, the internet of things and the Commission’s plans to digitise industry. In New York, he will join roundtable discussions with the American Council on Germany and with the World Economic Forum.
Following the publication of draft measures related to the end of roaming charges for European travellers as of 15 June 2017, Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, and Commissioner Oettinger, in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, said: “Getting rid of roaming charges is one of the best achievements of the European Union in the last few years, and a cornerstone for building the Digital Single Market. For more than a decade, the Commission has been working to reduce the huge surcharges that telecoms operators imposed on their customers each time they crossed a border while using their mobile device on holiday, at the week-end or during business trips (…) We are now at the final hurdle: the complete abolition of roaming charges for European travellers in the EU. This will enter into effect as of 15 June 2017. Those of us who travel do so on average for 12 days per year. But the Commission goes much further by abolishing roaming charges for at least 90 days per year, much more than the average time that a European is roaming with their phone. So in practice these charges will disappear for the vast majority of us. 99% of European travellers are covered. In any event, 90 days is the strict minimum. Mobile phone companies can always offer more or even choose not to apply limits at all. Some have already done so, and we strongly encourage this (…) Without a few safeguards to avoid abuses – safeguards that the European Parliament and Council have asked the Commission to specify – network quality and investments in new capacity in some countries may suffer as people could opt for different territorial operators, and the domestic mobile prices might go up as operators would try to compensate losses. Those who travel to and from work, crossing borders every day, are not concerned by the minimum of 90 days (…) Finally, Europeans will be able to spend their holidays in peace, without the worry of big phone bills when they come home.“
European Commission Vice–President Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, and Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger, in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, welcome today’s publication of guidelines on EU net neutrality rules by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). The publication of these guidelines was foreseen in the Regulation on the first EU-wide net neutrality rules which was agreed by the European Parliament and Council last year (press release) and which has applied in all EU Member States since 30 April 2016. The Commission has worked closely with BEREC on the preparation of the guidelines.
Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Oettinger said:
“Today’s guidelines provide detailed guidance for the consistent application of our net neutrality rules by national regulators across the EU. They do not alter the content of the rules in place which guarantee the freedom of the internet by protecting the right of every European to access internet content, applications and services without unjustified interference or discrimination. Our rules, and today’s guidelines, avoid fragmentation in the single market, create legal certainty for businesses and make it easier for them to work across border. They also ensure that the internet remains an engine for innovation and that advanced technologies and Internet of Things services like connected vehicles as well as 5G applications are developed today, and will flourish in the future. We are pleased with the intensive engagement with stakeholders in the preparation of the guidelines, which contributed to their quality. The update of the EU telecoms regulatory framework and the action plan to develop 5G in the EU which will be presented in September are our next steps to deliver the first-class quality connectivity and networks which are essential for the Digital Single Market”.
As of Monday, the European Commission is encouraging people to vote for their favourite future digital innovator and innovation in the 2016 Innovation Radar Prize. This year’s 40 nominees come from every corner of Europe, from SMEs, university teams, spinoffs and start-ups. Their ideas could transform areas from transport logistics to water management, to the treatment of cancer patients to the management of bee populations, for instance. They are developing digital innovations in projects funded bythe EU’s research, competitiveness and innovation programmes. Nominees have been identified by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar, an initiative that aims to identify high potential innovations and key innovators, based on a model developed by the European Commission’s DG CONNECT services and the Joint Research Centre’s Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. Voting runs for the entire month of August to identify the 16 innovators (4 from each of the 4 categories) who will pitch their ideas to an expert jury at ICT Proposers Day event in Bratislava on 26 September 2016. Like last year, the jury will select a winner for each category and an overall winner who will be featured on a special Euronews programme. Broadbit, the winner of the 2015 Innovation Radar Prize has subsequently closed multiple business angel investment rounds to finance expansion and production of their innovative battery technology. Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for the Digital economy and society, said “With Horizon 2020 the EU is investing heavily to support digital innovators. Thousands of EU-funded research and innovation projects with a digital focus have been launched so far in this decade. Now we are about to reveal which of them are best placed to take their results to the market or have the potential to deliver the biggest impact.“
Today and tomorrow, Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, is in Ukraine. During this visit, Commissioner Oettinger is expected to meet Volodymyr Groysman, Prime Minister of Ukraine, Stepan Kubiv, Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, and Oleksandr Danchenko, Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament’s ICT Committee, to discuss cooperation in the field of digital economy and society. The Commissioner will also speak at a high-level policy event which will explore the challenges and opportunities that the European Union’s Digital Single Market represents for Ukraine. The Commissioner has been inspired by the success of the Energy Community which extends the EU’s internal energy market rules to countries in South-East Europe and beyond, and hopes to explore a similar common vision of a Digital Community between the EU and Ukraine. Commissioner Oettinger intends to organise a Ministerial-level meeting with the six Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) in early autumn in Brussels in order to continue the discussion on the creation of the Digital Community. Further information will be published on the Commissioner’s website tomorrow.
Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger will discuss this afternoon the “5G Manifesto for timely deployment of 5G in Europe” with industry representatives. This Manifesto has been developed by key players in telecoms and in sectors which will use 5G technologies and services in the future – such as automotive, health, energy, media and manufacturing (see names of signatories and endorsers in the Manifesto to be published at 14:00 CET). It responds to Commissioner Oettinger‘s call at the Mobile World Congress in February (see hisblog postpublished during the event). The 5G Manifesto outlines the main opportunities and challenges linked to the deployment of 5G infrastructure in Europe. In particular, it provides recommendations for a common vision and a calendar for deployment in Europe, investments, standards and the synchronised introduction of services. It underlines the need for the coordination of radio frequencies and improved regulatory conditions to support innovation. Ahead of the meeting, Commissioner Oettinger said: “I very much welcome the 5G Manifesto and discussions today with the high-level industry group. These will help us focus on the key levers to ensure European digital leadership in 5G. I will come forward with a 5G Action Plan in the autumn.” (A blog post will be available later this afternoon). The Commission will consider ideas and recommendations from the 5G Manifesto, as well as other contributions – in particular from the consultation open until 11 July – when drawing up its 5G Action Plan. This Plan will be presented in the autumn, together with the review of the EU telecoms regulatory framework. More information.