“Europe used to be a driving force for innovation in the past, and it now has the opportunity to lead the way once again with the proper regulatory framework.” That was one of the conclusions of the second edition of the #Regulation4Innovation conference organized by MEP Eva Maydell and the EPP Group on 29 November that Ecommerce Europe attended. This high-level event is part of a continued dialogue between policy-makers and stakeholders in search for a well-fitted regulation in support of innovation.
The first panel on “Europe on its way to a global hub for digital innovation” was opened by Commissioner Modeas who stressed that the European Union had the opportunity to lead the third phase of digital innovation if policy-makers and stakeholders cooperate to define the best regulatory framework possible for innovation to prosper. Both Alexander de Croo, Deputy Prime minister and Minister for the Digital Agenda, and Pastora Valero, Vice-president, Public Policy and Government affairs at Cisco, agreed that there were necessary pre-conditions, including better cooperation between the public and private sphere, as well as investment in digital skills. Companies in Europe have already started to suffer from the lack of skilled workers due to a serious mismatch of skills and the lack of proper digital education. As a result, public authorities need to follow the lead of flourishing startups and company-led projects and invest intensively in developing those skills.
According to Alexander de Croo, the European decision-making processes should comply with this new reality through faster adoption, better monitoring of the progress and a steering role for public authorities, in cooperation with private actors. The conclusion of the discussion was that through a continuous dialogue between the public and the private sectors, the institutions will be able to create an ecosystem that will properly balance fostering innovation and protecting citizens and consumers.
The second panel, “Data-fueled economy in the age of AI”, focused on the relevance of innovation in the development of Artificial Intelligence. The industry is particularly optimistic regarding the current and future application of AI, which ranges from improved customer experience to more accessibility for people with disabilities. However, according to Paul Nemitz, Principal advisor at DG Just, considering the lack of trust in Artificial Intelligence, and the potential new legal issues that will arise in the near future, governments and institutions like the European Commission should legislate to accompany and set the boundaries of such innovations. To this end, the European Commission is expected to publish a Communication on Artificial Intelligence in April 2018.