Connectivity and easy access to broadband networks must be a priority for Europe to build a Single Digital Market
On 13 February 2018, Vice-President Ansip participated, alongside 170 citizens, in a Citizens' Dialogue in Zagreb. There was a lively and interactive discussion with a roomful of citizens which touched upon various aspects of the Digital Single Market. The Dialogue was also streamed via Facebook Live and received over 14,000 views.
There was a largely positive ambiance, and participants made their voices heard on a number of important issues – from geo-blocking to personal data to access to EU funds.
The Dialogue engaged with thousands of participants online and many young people and other citizens in the room.
Several participants expressed concerns about the lack of equal access to the Digital Single Market not including all Member States - particularly Croatia. It was mentioned by several participants that Croatian citizens often cannot purchase products online that deliver to Croatia.
In response to this, the Vice-President recognised that geo-blocking and costs of delivery in the European Union are problems of access to the EU single market. He stressed that this is a priority for the EU, especially for the European Commission to face challenges regarding equal access and geo-blocking for the benefit of all EU citizens and the European Single Market as well.
On funding and competition one participant mentioned that the Universities in Croatia simply do not have access to EU funds to develop on digital innovation and digitalization. Another citizen also stated that Croatian salaries are not competitive enough and do not attract experts to develop IT projects that would enable deeper integration in the Digital Single Market.
Another crucial reoccurring issue raised by participants was on the future of the Digital Single Market in terms of the introduction of 5G by 2025. The Commissioner referred to the 5G network as essential improvement for the future regarding the automated cars and digital innovation and improvements in the EU.
About international cooperation it was mentioned that, unlike the US, the EU did not invest enough in digitalization some time ago and now it had to catch up. Pan-European projects in terms of digitalization were also referred to as vital to protecting citizens' interests and handle issues like cybersecurity together, not separately within the Member States.
The event in Zagreb was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.