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European Commission

Neelie Kroes

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

Bringing down the barriers for startups

Campus Party Opening Ceremony/ London

2 September 2013

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

Welcome to Campus Party!

Over the next few days, you will take part in some great activities: Hackathons, innovation labs, competitions. You will encounter some great ideas, innovations and inspirations. You will be meeting some great people: those with much to teach; and those with the willingness to learn; ideally both.

And I'm particularly glad you're looking at the role of women in technology – we must use all the talent available.

But let me tell you why I love Campus Party. Why it's always such a refreshing revelation, and a highlight of my year. Not because of the speeches or initiatives. But because of the attitude I see, the energy I feel, and the hope it gives me.

This is a whole new way of working. People taking risks, willing to innovate, collaborating and sharing. For our wider economy, that could offer a great boost. One we need right now. And on a personal level, seeing that fresh attitude has been a real wake-up call for me.

It shows me that we are in a different world. You can shape the future of our society: you have the technology, the tools and the talent. And I am confident you will shape that future.

I want Europe to adapt to harness that power. Just earlier, some of the big European startup successes gave some ideas for how to do that – with the manifesto of the Startup Europe Leaders' Club. And you know what? You can sign up to it, and tell your friends to do it too. Campuseros of the world, unite! If thousands and thousands join up, I can assure you that it will be a powerful voice. It will be heard!

And I'm going to do my bit too.

In Europe the single market is our crown jewel. It's about bringing down barriers: helping you to travel, trade and transact, and expand your ambition across Europe.

But barriers remain within that market. Even online.

It's time to change that. Bring down those barriers and build a connected, competitive continent for all. Ensure every European can enjoy the devices and services they love. Regain a global lead and restart our economic engine.

This is why we have launched Startup Europe. This is why we launch Fi-Ware tomorrow, together with 100 million euros to support and link up eco-systems across Europe. This is why we have the Digital Agenda.

At the heart of the digital revolution lie telecommunications networks. Because every digital idea, every digital tool uses broadband. From eHealth to mobile games. Those networks – fast, reliable, pervasive – are beginning to underpin our economy and everything we do. Just as we have come to rely on energy and transport networks.

But at the moment Europe is lagging behind. In the US or Far East, they enjoy much better coverage and speeds. When communicating between countries in Europe, you face unfair charges, incompatible systems, patchy quality. That means it's too hard to connect across the continent. And that's harmful for every citizen, every business, every innovator out there, here in London and across the EU. You lose new opportunities, you lose economies of scale, you lose out on a market of 500 million.

These barriers are obstacles to innovation; the longer we wait to remove them, the harder new ideas will find it to flourish and grow. And we will all miss out.

Fixing this starts now. Next week I am setting out the legal steps we need to take away those barriers, and encourage services that work across all of Europe. To end roaming charges in the EU once and for all. To ban the anticompetitive behaviour that blocks and throttles online services, and inhibits innovation. To ensure the pan-European networks that fit your pan-European ambitions. Giving you access to the biggest digital market in the world. That's a single market boost that could be worth 110 billion euros to our economy. Part of a European digital agenda worth 5% of GDP.

That's what I want to give you. Because I know that if we do that, you will do great things with it. And lead the world.

Good luck over the next few days: Europe needs you.

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