Gunnar Hökmark on “Europe’s Digital Future”

As OKFN representative and organizer of Munich’s MOGDy project (EPSA page) last year, I was invited this Tuesday to a panel on Europe’s Digital Future, hosted by Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung in Brussels. (I still cannot believe that there is no event page on their website.)

In his keynote, Gunnar Hökmark MEP made a few interesting comments worth sharing and commenting:

  1. After the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the old Cold War concept of First, Second and Third World has been collapsing, too. There is no such thing anymore as different worlds. – That was a small “aha” for me. BRICS are moving faster than EU/US, their populations are gigantic and their influence will be huge in some years time. Their energy consumption is exploding and they have an explicit desire to grow, while many markets in the EU/US are nearing saturation… We need to continue questioning the unsustainable growth paradigm despite setbacks.
  2. The Internet is only 30 years old (for mainstream at least) and it makes it harder by the day to keep ideas to yourself (and exploit them) – in business, in politics, in society in general. – Although, the message is not new, it is worth reflecting more in detail about how volunteer (“open government”) and involunteer (“WikiLeaks”) access to information and data will change the role of public sector institutions, their legitimacy, and power. Rather sooner than later, the same trend will hit the corporate sector, too.
  3. 30 years ago the global economy was the US and the EU. Today, the US and the EU are the global centers of economic crisis. – Very interesting statement. Which areas are causing the crisis (-es?), how can we reduce their power? Which areas hold promises for the future? Littel surprising, Hökmark’s answer is that the Digital holds this promise, concretely mobile services. Mobile data traffic is expected to grow 10x by 2017. EC’s radio spectrum program to open up radio frequency bands (“Digital Dividend”) will play a key role in enabling this development. I hope they do allocate enough space for open spectrum (sadly, another US-heavy WP article) and open source innovation in that area, e.g. openBTS.

Unfortunately, the potential of open solutions has not been discussed very much in depth at the panel afterwards. A sign of hope was that Dr. Eckert of DG InfSo and Media showed strong support for open approaches in different areas. I hope he does get the support needed in his DG to move in that direction.

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