New technologies are changing the way we live and work in Europe. We stream movies and music and play games in virtual space, we share files and documents with people on other continents in a matter of seconds. Already today, cars are self-parking; tomorrow they’ll be autonomously driving us to work. Fridges order food, drones deliver packages right to the door. Digitalisation is creating new opportunities at breakneck speed. But digital technologies also require new regulations. Creating these is the responsibility of the EU. Digitalisation is all about transcending borders and making it possible to live and work with people from other countries.
The framework conditions must be right
We want our data to be protected on the Internet, wherever we are and wherever the server is located. When we buy things online, payment needs to be secure and protected from attacks by hackers. The conditions for approving driverless cars need to be comparable across Europe. And if a driverless drone should happen to crash, there need to be clear regulations determining who pays for the damage. Companies also need a secure framework in order to develop new technologies and bring them to market. The increased networking of industry, known as Industry 4.0, could solve many problems in Europe. When machines communicate with each other in real time, companies can respond better to customers’ wishes and save resources in production. New business models create new jobs. But companies need a legal framework that gives them scope for ideas while also providing the security of binding regulations.
Adapt the EU Single Market
Just as private individuals want to protect their data, companies also need to be safe from hackers. That’s why the EU needs cybersecurity regulations that protect data containing important trade secrets. Liability for robots and autonomous systems needs to be clarified so that using them does not present a risk. The single market needs to be adapted to new technologies. This can only be achieved in close cooperation with the companies that know and develop these new technologies. Authorities cannot single-handedly create the conditions for the digital future. One thing is clear: to really engage with new technologies, citizens and companies alike need to feel safe using them. If this security is not there, opportunities for digitalisation will go to waste.