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European Commission

Neelie Kroes

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda

Start in Europe, Stay in Europe: a single market for Europe's web entrepreneurs

Tech All Stars at Founders Forum event /London

13 June 2013

To add your comment to this speech, see the social version of the speech here

I'm here for a simple reason. Europe has talent. But it lacks Founders like you to believe it. It's you who can come up with the good ideas and shake it all up. Start forging tomorrow's economy. Create the jobs. Change the world. Because that's what startups and entrepreneurs do.

You should get credit for that. And that's my European dream. Parents, professors, politicians: they should realise and recognise the role you play, as entrepreneurs, and help you.

That's why we have set up Startup Europe Leaders Club [Daniel from Spotify, Kaj from Rovio, Lars from Hackforward, Joanna from Techcity, Reshma from Seedcamp, Boris from the NextWeb, Zaryn from Tuenti and Niklas from Atomico]. By the way 3 of them with US passports –and some are here today!

With this group, and with you today, we can show that we can make it here in Europe.

That is also why we launched new awards like "Europioneers" to celebrate great innovators like Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss (SoundCloud) or Jon Reynolds (SwiftKey). That's why we've come together today to celebrate the best upcoming talent with the Tech All Stars award. Well done to all those taking part, and especially the winners. I wish you every success.

My vision for more successful web entrepreneurs in Europe is relatively simple. It is about building a more favourable eco-system and to nurture talent. Entrepreneurs are my heroes, so to say. My vision is also about the benefits of Europe: providing lots of creativity, diversity and innovation, but also large scale thanks to links and bridges across borders. It is about openness, about joining and sharing.

This is the message I passed to the Spanish Prime Minister when he visited a few weeks ago, and when I passed to him some suggestions from web entrepreneurs about how Spain can do better. And I want to pass this message to more European leaders!

But I know that to succeed you need you need more than congratulations. You also need connectivity. Europe can do better. The USA, Japan and South Korea together have about the same population as the EU – but they have 88% of the world's 4G subscriptions: we have 6%. And the situation isn't much better for fixed fibre broadband.

I want to change this. By bringing down the barriers that stop this market investing and growing. By making it easier to communicate across borders—with better quality, innovative services, and fairer prices. By spreading our ambition wider, so you can think big, and share your bright ideas across a network of 500 million.

Our communications networks have to be fast, and they have to be widespread. But they also have to be open. It is openness and competition that enable such a great platform. Without it, too much web innovation would not be possible.

But it has to stay open. You have to know that your bright ideas can become accessible to all. Otherwise you won't spend all that time and effort investing in them. This is why I plan to introduce new EU rules to safeguard net neutrality – protecting every European, on every device, on every network. And we need to talk about app stores and platforms remaining open too. Otherwise the vertical silos could prevent new disruptive models to emerge, to the detriment of consumers.

My biggest challenge at the moment is the telecoms single market I am trying to build: with networks that are fast, resilient, and open. There are many people to convince. Many national interests. In Ministries and Parliament. I'm sure it won't be easy – we must challenge legacy systems and bring down barriers. But I am going to be fighting with my last breath to do that. And I hope you can join me.

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