I look forward to using that experience as a way to lead Europe to focus on all things digital. I also believe that openness and a willingness to engage are a ‘must’ for the 21st century: the digital age. That's why I was very happy to take up MEP Julia Reda's invitation during the hearing to hold an interactive online session with anyone who wanted to ask me questions or suggest ideas for the way forward.
To do this, since I am not – yet - an expert in this kind of thing, I asked my team to help organise this event. Time was very short, and so we decided to hold a Twitter chat, filtering the questions with the hashtag #AskAnsip. It was a great experience, if a little exhausting at times. In the space of one hour, we received more than 4,000 questions and Twitter mentions. Realistically, it wasn't possible to reply to everybody, and it's also not easy to develop ideas in under 140 characters. But I tried my best and we sent out around 130 tweets in the 60 minutes available.
To tell the truth, I really enjoyed it. Of course, a Twitter chat can’t – and isn’t meant to - replace serious discussions or consultations. I can promise that there will be plenty of those over the next five years. But I think we can, and should, do both – and so I will be happy to hold this kind of online session again from time to time. It was also very instructive because I got a clear feeling of the themes and issues that really matter to you: net neutrality, copyright, creativity and coding skills in the education curriculum. You can find a useful recap on the Digital Agenda Storify profile.
I have taken good note of all the suggestions and concerns, and also picked up lots of ideas. While I can't yet make any large-scale commitments, what I can promise now is that, I will fight from Day One to make sure that Europe gets the digital environment it deserves.
I would just like to repeat my views on the three topics that dominated the discussion.
Let's start with copyright, where I said several times that we need a reform. The digital revolution radically changes the world of intellectual property and that's why Europe must have a clear set of rules. Composers, film-makers and authors have to be protected against their work being misused. That also has to be balanced against the huge advantages that digital gives us, like music streaming services and e-libraries. So the copyright reform has to provide clear rules that create equal conditions for everyone.
This is linked to the second topic: net neutrality. If we are to enjoy online music, video and books to the full, then we need a space where there aren't any borders, limits or restrictions. Digital services don't recognise borders, so why do we have a situation where someone in Valencia can’t access the same service or content that someone else can in Helsinki or Zagreb? This is an unacceptable anachronism in the modern age. I am against any form of geoblocking or slowing down internet speeds. You should have the same rights online that you have offline. One market = one set of rules.
Many of you also asked about digital skills and education, which I believe are vital for growth and prosperity in Europe. People who know how to write a smart app or who are not afraid of moving their business online and push our society forward. Big Data and eHealth will create thousands of jobs in the near future and Europeans need to have the right skills to take advantage of these opportunities. Any initiative that puts coding into schools or helps older people to be online gets my full support.
Thank you again for all your questions, comments and replies. My team will be going through them to get a better overview of what you’ve said and shared, and they will pass the messages onto me. I will then use them to draw up a concrete strategy for the way forward – and I can say already that areas like copyright and net neutrality are at the top of my agenda.