Yesterday – as you've probably seen – national leaders from across the EU met to discuss the role of digital innovation in our economy.
Among other things they endorsed our proposals for a telecoms single market. The fact is, our economy increasingly depends on connectivity, and access to online services – open, fast, innovative – is crucial to growth.
For example, by promoting WiFi and 4G, we can ensure fast wireless connectivity wherever you go; yet this is an area where Europe currently trails behind. And in a true single market, of course, there are no more of those high surcharges for roaming; nor unjustified prices for calling or texting across borders.
But EU Leaders also looked at the wider picture, beyond telecoms. They recognised the digital economy is vital to jobs, put the digital agenda at the heart of their economic plans, and called for action to complete the digital single market by 2015. That includes, for example, measures on e-Identification, digital education and digital jobs, copyright, network and information security, and cloud computing. Plus on cutting the cost of broadband rollout, and to stimulate European innovation in key sectors like electronics.
Indeed, only the day before that discussion, President van Rompuy, Dutch PM Mark Rutte and I met some leading European startups to hear how digital innovation can support European growth and jobs – and how decision-makers can in turn support those entrepreneurs.
This was a good day for Europe. The most senior politicians came together to recognise this change is happening, and that Europe needs to adapt. The political leadership we need for European digital leadership in the decades to come. As Commission President Barroso put it, this is the necessary push we need to further strengthen our economy. And I congratulate President van Rompuy for his own leadership in steering this essential debate.
In particular the European Council called for "timely adoption" of the telecoms package. And that urgency is needed: with the European Parliament rising for elections not too far in the future, and a digital world that is moving on rapidly. So I hope that this — and other pending legislation — can be agreed very soon. Indeed, the relevant Committees in the European Parliament are already hard at work, with a time-table allowing adoption before the end of the legislature.
Given its importance, the European Council will be returning to this issue in 2014. And meanwhile I will be working intensely with national ministers — and with those Members of the European Parliament — to ensure we deliver in time. For the sake of a healthy, dynamic telecoms sector; a connected, competitive Europe; and a fairer deal for every telecoms user.