Address by the President of the Democratic Rally, Mr. Averof Neofytou at the Conference in honor of Commissioner of Digital Economy and Society, Ms. Mariya Gabriel
Thursday, January 31st, Filoxenia Conference Center, 12.30 p.m.
I would like to thank you for joining us today at the Digital Economy and Society, A Vision of Growth Conference in honor of European Commissioner Ms. Mariya Gabriel.
It is an honor for the Democratic Rally and me personally to welcome you in Cyprus. As the European Commissioner of Digital Economy and Society your responsibilities on a European level are directly linked with a core matter for us.
For us, Cyprus 2030 is our vision for a digital and innovative Cyprus.
The world today is changing in a fast pace. Rapid technological advancements and fast-paced global change on geopolitical, socio and economic fronts mark these changes.
We live in the era of the digital revolution. In such a changing world, all countries must up their game. It is a fact that regardless of whether a country is big or small, these changes will leave no one unaffected.
It is far beyond digital supremacy. It is rather, about finding ways to harness the new digital era for the benefits of our societies. With policies to enable economic growth and social prosperity.
And such policies are vital, for the European Union as a whole and of course for Cyprus. Policies relating to digital communications, common European infrastructures, and cyber-security. Notwithstanding policies for the Digital Single Market to truly enable growth and prosperity with innovation and startups.
And the support of the European Commission in this is vital. Like for example the €19million for Cypriot Municipalities and communities to develop free WIFI infrastructure. This will be followed by an extension of the funding program of €120 million to further expand free WI-FI with three additional calls from now until 2020.
Europe is on the right track. For the first time it proposes a dedicated funding program of €9.6 billion for Digital Europe. At the same time we have to be frank and flexible. European research is at the global forefront. Particularly in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and blockchain technologies for example, Europe leads in research. But we run the risk of falling behind. Held back by, sometimes, heavy and not so innovation-friendly regulation.
Because it is not just about the research. It is about enabling innovation and business creation. Facilitating European startups to scale into big, global companies. And to achieve that, we need to move fast and to leverage investments in innovation.
Above all, we need to change the culture on innovation. The old saying “Americans innovate, Chinese copy and Europeans regulate”, must become just an old saying. We need intelligent, pro-startup and innovation regulation.
We stand with our European family, the European People’s Party to support the mandate of our leading candidate for the Presidency of the Commission, Manfred Weber to work for a better Europe together. To help build a more united, more secure, more ambitious and stronger Europe together.
I would like to thank you again for your presence here with us. I am looking forward to the conference proceedings and the discussion.