Speech of Vice-President Ansip at the launch of the European Tech Alliance, Strasbourg, France

Ladies and gentlemen

I am delighted to be here at your launch event today. It is good to see a European Tech Alliance created, finally.

This is something that has been lacking.

It is good to see that you are very strong supporters of the Digital Single Market and that we share the political aims for embracing digitisation with confidence. We also share pride in Europe’s digital capacities. You are all good examples of this.

We are approaching the one-year mark of this European Commission. During these 12 months, we have not wasted time in preparing our plan to build a DSM for Europe. The next stage is implementation and presenting the proposals.

We do not have much time. We promised to put all the key actions on the table of the Parliament and Council before the end of 2016. This is what we will do. We have started the process, in line with our practices, by inviting views from everyone in a series of areas that are important for the DSM: telecoms reform, geo-blocking and platforms, to give a few examples.

It is important that industry makes its voice heard loudly. Good input makes for good initiatives.

Europe is good at tech. There is a lot we can be proud of.

This alliance’s member companies represent a new generation of EU entrepreneurship. You have grown and developed quickly. You can be considered leading players in your fields.

The next challenge is to make the next step to compete internationally, where you can have a disruptive and positive impact on the global economy. This is a common problem for startups. Once they have got off the ground, their main ambition and challenge is to expand and reach scale.

But so far, only a limited number have broken through the ‘early-stage barrier’ to position themselves for becoming large global companies and real job creators.

So what is stopping our tech startups from scaling up?

There are several reasons, but I see two main related factors:

– we do not yet have a fully functional DSM;

– when it comes to digital, the European market is divided into 28 national ones.

That becomes a major problem when you consider access to venture capital and investor funding. Investors want big markets, not small fragmented ones. They, as well as most companies, want legal certainty rather than a string of different national requirements, responsibilities and obligations.

The result is that European startups find it hard to scale to the extent that they want. In turn, their global competitiveness as companies is reduced. This is where the DSM comes in. It will remove barriers for companies to:

– operate easily and smoothly across national borders;

– find skilled employees from anywhere in Europe;

– make the transition from national to international.

The DSM will also guarantee equal and fair conditions. All companies offering goods or services in a single European digital space should be subject to the same rules. Not a patchwork of laws under 28 different national systems.

This means taking action in many different areas: consumer laws, data protection, e-commerce, VAT, copyright, cloud computing, the free flow of data, among others. The DSM strategy addresses all of these areas.

We are also working to explore ways to attract more venture capital as part of the Capital Markets Union. Here, the aim is to improve access to financing for all businesses across Europe and investment projects, startups in particular.

I am quite hopeful that we can add more support, open even more doors for cross-border business in the upcoming Internal Market Strategy.

To conclude, helping startups to expand and scale, supporting our SMEs to succeed: this is what the DSM is about.

It is also about helping Europe to fulfil its potential as a leading force in the digital world. With your strong support, I am confident that we can achieve this.

My door is open. Tell us what is needed and if our direction is the right one.

Thank you and I wish your new alliance every success.