Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Interview with a european commissioner - part 1

I tried to interview (through e-mail) Viviane Reding (european commissioner about Information society and media). Probably it's too late to get an interview (the first Barroso commission was supposed to serve from 22nd november 2004 till 31st october 2009; but the second Barroso commission isn't ready yet!), anyway i sent an e-mail and somebody of the staff answered me, then i sent 3 questions and another person answered (2 questions out of 3).

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that european commission is far from common people, this interview may be the answer

1-The (first) Barroso commission is ending the job now: do you think that, for the point of view of pushing for an information society, all the best was done or that could you do more?

Of course there is always more to do and that is why every Commissioner should use the end of his or her 5 years term to outline a future-vision for the area in which (s)he has been working – because even though we have been talking about the completion of Europe's 'single market' since 1992, we are not there yet. I am thinking here for example of a Single Digital Market which makes access to rich content online easy for Europe's 500 million consumers while at the same time remunerating creators.

Nevertheless, we should also look back at our achievements and I think that the Barroso Commission has clearly delivered on the 'Europe of results' and on putting the citizen into the heart of the single market project. My portfolio for example, Information Society and Media, might sound rather technical but what I regard as my personal achievement is that I have succeeded in creating a connection to the people; giving technology a human face and putting technology at the service of Europe's citizens.

For example thanks to the EU rules on roaming people are no longer punished on their phone bill when crossing a border and due to the lower roaming prices (a 70% reduction for roaming calls and another 60% reduction for roaming SMS) people actually use their mobiles abroad more than before!

Another example is Europeana, Europe's digital library, which we opened last year. It is available in 21 languages and offers today access to 4.6 million digitised objects, including books, paintings, movies etc. An internet platform offering everyone around the world access to Europe's rich cultural heritage – a symbiosis of technology and culture which I find truly fascinating.

Last but not least let's not forget the huge social potential of ICTs that I have always been trying to promote next to the economic potential: internet access for all is vital in order to create an all-inclusive information society in which everyone has access to knowledge. ICTs can help us achieving a sustainable, low-carbon economy or to treat (elderly) people from home saving them the daily trip to the doctor.

The European Commission has been the driving motor behind projects putting ICTs at the use of our society and I regard this as an achievement for the building of an information society for and in Europe.

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