President von der Leyen at the Lisbon Web Summit

© European Union, 2021© European Union, 2021

Yesterday, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, took part in the virtually held Web Summit, which brings together various stakeholders with the aim to redefining the global tech industry. In her speech, the President said that “science and technology have the power to make our lives better” and “technology can save lives”. She emphasised the incredible value that the tech sector has for the European economy: “In 2020 alone, the value of European tech companies has risen by almost 50%. The pandemic has been a catalyst and an accelerator of change. In the last five years, the value of European tech companies has quadrupled. A handful of European start-ups born in the early Noughties have become global leaders in their fields. And the alumni of that first class have given birth to a new generation of companies across the continent. Europe’s tech sector is coming of age. Europe has all the potential to be a global leader in the next wave of digital transformation.” To achieve the goal of making the 2020s Europe’s Digital Decade, “we want to bring the benefits of the digital transformation to all people and regions in Europe. I want Europe to be a place where innovators can thrive. A place where start-ups can grow into giants. And a place where young talents can bring their ideas to life”, President von der Leyen said. She also referred to the upcoming Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, which will create a single baseline set of rules for all digital businesses, and re-write the rulebook for the digital market: “I want that the values we cherish in the offline world are also respected online. These rules will tackle concrete online harms: from selling unsafe products, to sharing someone’s personal data without consent, to spreading illegal hate speech.” Furthermore, the President underscored that “across the European Union there will be one set of core digital rules”, making sure we have a true European Digital Single Market, based on fair competition and a level playing field. Watch the speech back here, read it in full here.