I know there is a lot of interest in how the European Commission is moving ahead with plans for the #DigitalSingleMarket. Here's a quick update on how things are going.
As you know, 12 Commissioners representing various areas of EU policy are involved in drawing up the long-term strategy that we aim to publish in May. We've already agreed the major priorities, and so when we met for the second time this week, our focus was more on digging deeper into specific areas that urgently need "European" attention.
My view is that we should only set out what is realistic, what is achievable and what can be easily understood.
This should not become a 'catch-all' strategy, in the sense that it promises and talks a lot – but does not contain anything that can be done properly, or has any real impact. The idea is very much to change the status quo.
We have to be as targeted as possible, and get the maximum benefit that we can.
The idea of this week's meeting was to start identifying a select list of concrete initiatives, solid and practical, that will have a positive EU-wide impact, while making a tangible difference to people's lives and to business.
It will be backed up by plans for broader policy support in other sectors. Take transport, where we want to encourage European cities to get 'smarter' by integrating technologies across the transport, energy and ICT sectors. If we can connect and combine these better, we can vastly improve the urban environment, using diverse technologies to increase the efficiency of how a modern city functions. Digital policies have a major role to play.
So what's next? We are not developing strategy in a vacuum - but with people, for people and in the interests of all Europeans. We are still working on this list of initiatives, which needs to be well designed and considered.
This is a very challenging task – for us all. But I am hopeful that we will make progress.
Building a connected Digital Single Market is something we aim to get right. My fellow Commissioners pointed out to me that many of the decisions we need to take will not be easy, because they imply change and shaking up vested interests: interests that can block a society for short-term benefits – for them - but with disastrous long-term effects for consumers, evolving business models, our growth and competitiveness.
I am reassured after the meeting that the Commission will work together to deliver a holistic and focused strategy for the years ahead. We have already received a lot of ideas and support, both from EU Member States and from the European Parliament. I hope that this support will continue as we get down to the details.
As the strategy emerges, we will be listening and engaging throughout: with EU governments, industry, consumers, anyone and everyone – to hear what people think is needed, and what needs to change.
We'll also invite people to say what they think online, and we're in the process of setting up the appropriate forum for doing that.
But there really is not so much time. The clock is ticking on towards May, only a few months away.
Later in February, there will be a conference in Brussels #Digital4EU to gather more than 400 interested parties representing companies, organisations, and people from across the digital community. The idea is to hear everyone's views on how to shape Europe's digital future.
Then, around a month later, all European Commissioners will take part in a general debate on the Digital Single Market. After the strategy is finalised, and published in May, the leaders of the EU's 28 member countries should discuss it at their meeting in June.
The DSM strategy is not going to solve all of our problems in one go, and certainly not overnight. But I hope the measures that we are planning, when they are properly carried out across Europe, will trigger change and development in many areas so that all Europeans can benefit from a truly connected and open digital space.
I hope to write another blog soon.