" We need to have our own European Facebook! This vow, formulated by Guy Verhofstadt, one of the leading candidates of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) party in view of the European elections at the end of May, says a lot about state of the digital sector on the Old Continent. Indeed, there is no giant "made in Europe".
Ireland, guardian of European data
On the contrary, and this is what the Belgian Liberal denounces, Europe has to contend with the American behemoths, and sometimes it is difficult not to be stomped on.
Fines for abuse of dominant position
During the term of office, the European Commission has redoubled its efforts to be heard by the GAFA – Google, Apple, Facebook and other Amazon. The Competition Commissioner, Margarethe Vestager, has thus multiplied the fines for abuse of dominant position to remind them that the European rules are there to be respected. In the summer of 2016, Apple received the heaviest penalty ever in a state aid case, with 13 billion euros to return to Ireland.
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For his part, his colleague Pierre Moscovici defended body and soul a tax of 3% on the turnover of the largest digital companies, so that they also pay taxes on the European continent.
Meanwhile, the negotiators of the EU Council (which brings together the states) and the European Parliament have come to an agreement to better protect the European digital space, notably by introducing the now famous General Regulation on data protection. (RGPD) (see opposite).
Abandonment of the GAFA tax
But the fines of the Iron Lady of Brussels are only drops of water for large US groups, the so-called "GAFA tax" on a European scale has been abandoned (for lack of agreement between the States) while the protection of data from Europeans remains still partial (the "ePrivacy" file, which concerns electronic communications, on Whatsapp for example, and which had to be completed by this year, is far from being agreed).
"We can not let the Gafa loot anymore"
So rather than appearing like a paper tiger against the big names of Silicon Valley and the Chinese technology giants, would the EU not be interested in working hard to put all its weight on the global market ? Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the Commission in charge of the Digital Single Market, is convinced that, in his view, it is essential to join forces to build a digital future for Europe. We must act without delay and on all fronts. "
Such a request is echoed in many capitals. In Paris, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire has already declared " launch the battle of innovation ", In particular by creating a" world champion Artificial intelligence (AI) at the European level.
An artificial intelligence (AI)
Thus, more than in the social media market (where Facebook and other Snapchat reign supreme), major video platforms (such as YouTube or Netflix) or online commerce (such as Amazon or eBay), it's good in the AI sector that Europe intends to deftly play its cards.
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His ambition? To offer, unlike its Chinese and American neighbors, products based on "ethical" AI. The EU already has a "strategy" and a "coordinated plan" in this area, with a view to facilitating cooperation between countries, fostering the exchange of good practices and maximizing investment returns. .
The current President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, believes strongly in this, having made digital one of his priorities for the last five years. And undeniably, stable bases are thrown away. The next European executive to succeed in building a European digital empire capable of standing up to rivals.
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