Europe is facing a severe economic crisis, with a devastating effect on jobs, opportunities, and lives – particularly for younger people. To restore hope, we must invest in future growth and support a vibrant innovation culture, especially in ICT, to foster the digital tools that promise to transform everything we do.
First, we need the right infrastructure. In today’s connected world, that means broadband, the platform for virtually every bright new digital idea. Yet a weak European telecoms sector cannot invest or innovate and looks backward to old revenues like roaming, rather than forward to new dynamic digital opportunities. Meanwhile, a fragmented telecoms sector does not benefit from the single market’s potential boost. That is why I have been so determined to make Europe a connected continent, to bring down barriers and end roaming surcharges here once and for all.
Second, we need the right human capital. Even in this time of unemployment, Europe does not have enough skilled workers to fill the available digital jobs. I want to see concerted action by both private and public sectors to fix this problem – and that should include opening up education and digital classrooms everywhere.
Third, we need the right mentality – one where it is okay to innovate, okay to disrupt and okay to fail. People should not be afraid to try out new ideas or break out on their own. Over 40% of potential European entrepreneurs are put off by the fear of failure; that is about three times higher than in the US!
Changing that attitude would make a big difference. That is the goal of the Start-up Manifesto, a call to action to help improve the environment for European entrepreneurs, boosting innovation and growth.
Europe once led the world in all things digital. Now, we need more than ever to recapture that lead. Let’s not turn our backs on that opportunity.
This post was originally an article published in issue 2 of UNITEE’s new magazine, The New European, dedicated to analysing the European Dream and the ways to revive it. The complete online version can be read for free here.