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Europe’s digital power #1013618

Europe’s digital power #1013618 is an ongoing research project by ECFR supported by BBVA, Telefonica and Cellnex.

101, 36,18. These figures represent the huge challenges facing Europe today, stemming from the digital sphere but affecting almost every other. 101 is the number of start-ups valued at over $1 billion in the USA, 36 in China and just 18 in Europe. As digital radically redefines and redistributes economic and political power on an international scale, we enter into a new game with new rules.

The scramble to master an entity with no centralized government nor international standards or policies for access and usage is redefining the very nature of the internet. Initially conceived as an open model and developed in the libertarian tradition, it is increasingly dominated by a desire to assert national sovereignty, the creation of firewalls, information wars, surveillance and cyberattacks. States increasingly try to subordinate the internet and digital domains for nationally strategic purposes while a handful of economic actors swell with unrivaled market capitalizations.

Europe is conspicuously absent in the battle, looking on as the internet is increasingly carved up and distributed. A fragmented internal market, inconsistent and reactionary regulation and political disengagement are some of the many obstacles to Europe becoming a player in the digital world. 

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