Schaake: Digital subcommittee would be 'extremely useful'

Dutch deputy Marietje Schaake tells the Parliament Magazine why the digital agenda is so important and what challenges Europe's legislators are facing in dealing with it.

By Kayleigh Rose Lewis

09 Jul 2014

With ever advancing technology, and its reach extending way beyond areas previously considered to be 'digital', legislating on such issues has become increasingly difficult for the EU's policymakers.

Schaake, a member of the European parliament's ALDE group, has been a key parliamentarian in the promotion of digital issues, and has long advocated for digital rights.

Speaking to this website, she said, "The European digital agenda must be a priority in the upcoming years.

"The world is changing and digitising rapidly, and we need smart policies to reap the benefits of technological developments and to truly unchain the potential of the digital internal market"

"This should be reflected also in combination with EU foreign policies, for example with an ambitious internet governance agenda, as well as in ensuring digital freedoms are not compromised in the name of cyber security."

She continued, "The world is changing and digitising rapidly, and we need smart policies to reap the benefits of technological developments and to truly unchain the potential of the digital internal market.

"For that," she explained, "We need copyright reform and harmonisation. The current fragmentation harms cultural exchange, research, education and is blocking economic opportunities for start-ups.

And, she noted, "The member states and commission are finally starting to move on this subject."

However, she added, "We need to keep pushing them and to make sure that rules that were made at the time of the typewriter are updated to the digital age."

As for how the parliament can work towards this, she told this website, "A digital subcommittee would be an extremely useful platform in getting the digital topics higher up the agenda and to rebalance the distribution of knowledge and resources.

"Digital affairs is currently divided between a number of committees. This fragmentation makes it difficult to act fast, strategically and decisively as the European parliament.

"Technologies develop faster than policies"

But, even if this were to happen, Schaake concedes, "The list of challenges is already quite long, and I am sure there will be unexpected developments.

"Technologies develop faster than policies. Who would have predicted WikiLeaks, the massive use of social media or the defeat of anti-counterfeiting trade agreement five years ago?"

"This also reminds us that we need to make 'future proof' policies," she urged, concluding, "The next commissioner for the digital agenda should come forward with ambitious plans. Europe can and should aspire to be the world's smartest continent."

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