President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said at a digital society panel of a high-level seminar in Brussels that the European Union (EU) must put some serious effort into creating a more favorable economic environment for tech companies.
“We are currently witnessing a brain drain to the US, which has a single digital market across all states; in effect, the US is offering a business sector with a bigger reach and better opportunities. According to European Commission estimates, Europe will lose approximately 340 billion euros per year as a consequence of its fragmented digital market," Ilves said at a seminar, which was organized by the Friends of Europe think-tank.
According to Ilves, promising European start-up companies that succeed in getting the required venture capital, use the first opportunity to take their business to the US market.
"The reason is simple – the EU has never been able to ensure the cross-border movement of e-services, and IT-based service companies must adopt and adapt to 28 different taxation, consumer protection and copyright regimes," Estonian president said, adding that it is far more beneficial for these companies to move to the US where business enjoys much better conditions and a single market.
According to a MEP Marietje Schaake, who gave a presentation at the same panel, it is very difficult to suggest a solution for the traditional democratic decision-making process to catch up with rapid technological development and the resultant changes within society.
One of the options would be to pay more attention to education and research activities in order to use the available tools for the purpose of enhancing Europe's readiness to move in tandem with digital development," said Schaake.
Ilves also expressed hope that the EC would make fast progress towards the conclusion of the EU-US trade agreement to abolish customs duties and move towards mutual recognition or development of Trans-Atlantic standards.
Notable former and current high-ranking European politicians participated in the seminar, among them Herman van Rompuy, Frans Timmermans, Mario Monti, and Carl Bildt. Many business leaders, journalists and cultural figures also took part to analyze the problems currently faced by Europe.
Editor: S. Tambur