Europe needs to invest €700 billion in digital infrastructure to catch up with the US and China, Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.
The commissioner for the digital economy warned that if Europe doesn’t develop fibre-optic networks and nextgen 5G applications and networks fast enough, “we will lose, because important technological applications will not be possible any longer in our industry”.
Oettinger also noted that the likes of Amazon and Google benefit from a U.S. wide data standard and have been able to collect data that gives them much broader knowledge of their customers’ needs than most European companies, he said.
“Investments of €600-700 billion are needed in the European area, according to our calculations,” Oettinger told a panel at the European Alpbach forum, an annual conference in Austria. This included investments in Switzerland, Ukraine and the western Balkans which are part of the pan-European infrastructure, he said.
“In less than two years we will have one European legislative standard and a balance between data protection and the right to use the data,” he said when asked about when to expect a European-wide data regulation. Oettinger said he was touring European countries to talk about the need for unified digital standards because this was the only way to meet the competition with digital giants such as Amazon and Google.
“Standards such as how to connect cars have to be the same in Europe. They should be strong enough to become part of the global norms and standards,” he said, urging European universities to attract international IT pioneers.
“We have to bundle our European strength we have at universities and in the industry, or our 28 silos will be not strong enough to compete with Silicon Valley and the Chinese.”