Tech heavyweights unite to call for urgent European digitalization action

Ericsson has joined forces with four of the biggest names in global technology to call on Europe’s policymakers to take urgent action in five key areas to ensure the region is competitive in the digital economy.

The five companies - Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Intel and Vodafone - say they also want to ensure that Europe’s digital and advanced connectivity competitiveness needs are high on the agenda of the next European Commission, to follow European Parliament elections in June 2024.

The call comes ahead of the April 19 meeting of the D9+ group - comprising twelve national digitalization ministers from EU member states - in Dublin Castle, Ireland, under Ireland’s six-month presidency of the group. The D9+ group usually meets twice per year.

Robert Condon, Head of Ericsson’s Government and Policy Advocacy in Europe, joined his action-call counterparts in stressing the need for policymakers to deliver a true Digital Single Market, address the digital connectivity investment gap, and avoid introducing unnecessary regulatory burdens for companies operating in the digital ecosystem.

“Europe must seize the opportunity to become a global leader in the industrial internet, capitalizing on the potential of emerging technologies like AI, quantum computing, and 5G Standalone connectivity,” he says. “Member States and the EU must work with industry to drive the deployment of a world-class digital infrastructure, the adoption of productivity-boosting tools, and ensure that the regulatory environment is fit for the future.”

The five key policy demands are:

  1. Accelerate the development of a true Digital Single Market

Policymakers must focus on the consistent, coherent implementation of existing regulations on the digital ecosystem, working to leverage the power of a true Digital Single Market. They should avoid introducing new regulatory burdens that make it difficult for telecoms companies to speed up network deployments, or for other businesses to adopt digital tools.

  1. Incentivize investment in advanced connectivity

Europe needs healthy telecoms operators with the scale to invest in 5G Standalone, fiber and, in the future, 6G. The regulatory framework for telecoms needs modernizing, including through a fresh approach to merger controls and spectrum allocation, involving longer licences and harmonized rules across Member States. Advanced connectivity solutions, which are needed to optimize the use of energy and natural resources in line with EU sustainability goals, should also become part of the EU’s taxonomy in order to attract green financing to support network deployments.

  1. Regulate B2B and consumer-facing technologies differently

European policy objectives should focus on fixing market failures, ensuring a level playing field, and addressing identified risks to society. When considering regulation, policymakers should distinguish between B2B service providers – usually operating under well-functioning contractual agreements, with limited access to client data – and companies with consumer facing products or services.

  1. Fostering policies that make trusted companies thrive in Europe.

The policy environment must encourage trusted companies to thrive in Europe through trade, recruitment, and research. Cooperation between like-minded countries, including transatlantic cooperation, also remains essential to supporting a positive business environment.

  1. Ensure Europe is ready to reap the benefits of quantum and AI

The quantum era will be as transformative as it is disruptive, leading to breakthroughs in strategic industries like healthcare, finance, and logistics. It will also create new challenges for security. Policymakers should prepare for the quantum era by promoting early-stage experimentation in industrial application and deployment, encouraging resilient supply chains, and incentivizing private sector investment in Europe. Policymakers should also focus on preparing critical infrastructure for migration to quantum-safe standards as part of their cybersecurity policy planning – areas that deserve particular and increased R&D support. In that context, European R&D funding mechanisms and processes should be better coordinated and improved.

Read the related joint Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Intel and Vodafone press release here.

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