Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

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Where East and West share common ground: I meet Minister Tatsuo Kawabata

Today I am very happy to report that despite the obvious geographical distance of some 10,000km, in terms of cooperation Japan and Europe are very close indeed. I had the great pleasure to hold a meeting with Minister Tatsuo Kawabata of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, together with some of his colleagues, including Vice Minister Yamakawa. The Minister - responsible not only for ICT matters but also for Japanese home affairs - updated me on the progress in Japan since the terrible earthquake and tsunami of last year, and on the nuclear crisis and the effect this is having on Japan's energy situation.  I was struck yet again by the resilience and fortitude of the Japanese people: my thoughts are with those who have had to cope with such hardship.  And I realised that, although Japan and Europe are facing crises of different natures at the moment, we are nevertheless seeing so many of the same challenges.

My visit to Silicon Valley - where the nerds meet the hippies

Hi all, welcome back to the blog, and I hope you all enjoyed the summer period! This week, I am just back from a fact-finding visit to Silicon Valley, California. I visited many of the companies well-established in the area—like Hewlett Packard, Cisco, Google, EBay/PayPal, and Apple—and spoke with local executives from European companies like Nokia, Ericsson, and Deutsche Telekom, as well as a series of start ups, incubators and accelerators – including some from Europe. Much of what we heard is already well-known. The weak points of Europe, the uniqueness of "The Valley". The sheer volume of capital, the number of legendary companies with astronomic growth rates, and so on. Still, to see it "in the flesh" just underlines what a dynamic place this is and what entrepreneurial strength it has. Concerns or doubts that could prove barriers to enterprise in Europe are overridden with an overwhelming optimism and entrepreneurial drive. Risk taking, failing, moving on, and getting ready for the next new venture is all part of the game. Lots of people I met told me that for them, failure is an event, not a person; when a project has failed you'll be asked: "so what are you going to do next?"
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