On Friday, September 29, European heads of State and Government gathered in Estonia to discuss the future of innovation across the Continent at the Tallinn Digital Summit. The IE.F was one of five independent organizations from 4 countries to choose that specific occasion to launch the Digital Squads, a transnational initiative designed to improve the drafting process of a digital strategy at the European level.
As Marie Ekeland of the French Digital Council said, “The European Commission has set an ambitious goal with the Digital Single Market, but we need to go beyond and think up the next move. This is only possible if you find short cuts between European institutions and local innovators, whose knowledge about the actual state of the art of technology and future opportunities for Europe is precious.”
The French Institute in Estonia organized the kick-off event in collaboration with the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the French Digital Council and the Foresight Center of the Estonian Parliament. At the first meeting, words of welcome were given at the Ministry of Economic Affairs by Urve Palo, Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology, along with Mounir Mahjoubi, French Secretary of State for Digital Affairs. Both ministers welcomed the initiative that they see as close to the priorities of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU (Urve Palo) and useful to help Europe face all challenges brought about by digital transformation (Mounir Mahjoubi). Squad members then had their first ever workshops, where it was agreed to first tackle the issue of an institutional and regulatory framework adapted to the platform economy, in an agenda that will lead to scenarios and policy recommendations by early 2018.
But why set up these Digital Squads in the first place? This was implicitly the topic of a debate held after the workshops, entitled Is Europe connected enough with its digital ecosystems to deal with the future? IE.F Managing Director Clark Parsons took part in the debate as one of the panelists, and as might be imagined, the panelists agreed that the current answer to the question was “no, not yet.” Hence the need to smooth the relations between ecosystem players and policy makers in order to improve the making of a common digital strategy. That’s where the Squads should come into play.
Finally, the Squads were greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron, ahead of his arrival to the Tallinn Digital Summit. President Macron came to hear about the ongoing works, to support the initiative, and then promised to host one of the Squad’s next working sessions in Paris.