On February 5, the European Internet Forum organised a reception – hosted by Pilar del Castillo MEP and EIF Chair – with Thierry Breton, the new EU Commissioner for Internal Market as guest of honour for an exchange of views on his policy priorities and future initiatives.
Pilar del Castillo MEP welcomed participants expressing her delight for being able to welcome Commissioner Breton at the European Internet Forum. Ms del Castillo highlighted the importance of Mr. Breton’s portfolio for Europe’s global competitiveness: “We need to preserve our digital sovereignty but without becoming a protectionist regime”, she stressed.
Commissioner Breton started his speech by highlighting the status quo: “We are in front of a big evolution in the digital age. We are just at the beginning of the data creation on the planet, and in Europe we create a lot.” He acknowledged the increasing interest for Europe’s industrial data, making it clear that his job was to “make sure that everybody will use purposely this data, helping everyone being competitive.” Data is fundamental because it is the fuel for AI and in Commisioner Breton’s opinion, having a strategy for both AI and data is essential.
The Commissioner touched upon 5G deployment: “We are not late with 5G. It is a critical infrastructure and Member States sat together to discuss how to mitigate the risks involved. My job is to help Member States be clear in their expectations.” Mr. Breton reinforced the idea that Europe’s market is open to everyone, as long as they are able to meet the requirements.
“We are entering a post-cloud era. Today all this data is processed localized in specific data centers. 80% of data are localized in a data center or cloud and 20% are in a pervasive way in connected cars, smart farms, beginning of IoT, etc.”. Commisioner Breton added that, by the end of his mandate, these numbers will shift to 20-80%.
Cybersecurity is a key aspect, from the Commissioner’s point of view, and will need to be treated with even more attention, because defending specific data centers is one thing, while having the whole continent as an entry point is different.
Commissioner Breton stated that, with regard to the industry, we are extremely competitive in Europe. However, he called for the need of having more digital hubs, in order to help SMEs. “From an industry which was only producing product, we are now also offering services. Some users don’t want to own the product anymore, they want to share it”. The EU Green Deal will “substantially change the way we produce”.
In conclusion, Commissioner Breton reiterated his confidence in being the right choice for the portfolio: “I feel comfortable in this job. I am passionate, with Europe, technology and companies.” Moreover, he highlighted his main priority: “We may have missed the first wave of data – personal data. My job is to make sure that we will not miss the second wave – industrial data.”