In an on-stage interview at TechCrunch Disrupt on Monday, outgoing European Union Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes discussed the challenges she faced as head of the EU’s digital policy.
Talking to TechCrunch Editor-At-Large Mike Butcher, Kroes said that a major part of her role had been to negotiate with telecoms companies. She said that telecoms companies can’t go around in circles, and expressed her wish to go back to “basic reforms” in Europe. Telecoms are still ring-fenced, she said, and that is something the EU is trying to tackle.
Kroes has been keen to force telecoms companies to embrace the open internet, saying that there should be “no blocking, and no throttling,” of the internet in Europe. “Digital isn’t something you’re in favour of,” Kroes said, “Digital is a fact.”
Kroes called telecoms companies “spoiled,” largely because they have had their internet monopolies protected for years.
TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher challenged Kroes on the EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling, asking her if it was a disaster. Kroes said that it is important to teach young people that when they push a button and send data to the internet, it has consequences.
“Once sent, it’s gone,” she said, adding that the right to be forgotten should but used as a tool to teach young people about the consequences of the internet.
The EU is unveiling a host of new schemes to support entrepreneurs in Europe. That includes €2.5 billion ($US3.2 billion) to help European companies embrace big data, with the aid of existing US companies in the same space.
“We should create our own part of that in Europe,” Kroes said about the rise of big data among American startups.
Another new scheme is the Horizon 2020 program which will see €80 billion ($US102 billion) provided to companies working on eco-friendly projects like electric cars.