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In a fast-changing world, how do we ensure Europe’s society and economy are sufficiently robust to weather digital’s negative impacts while benefiting from its many advantages? Four experts gathered in Brussels to debate the issue in the closing session of Net Futures 2017. Almost as one they agreed that we need more digital skills, free-flowing data and a light regulatory touch – plus greater vision and ambition from European authorities.

Kicking off the session, held on 29 June 2017 at the Egg conference centre, moderator Dharmendra Kanani of Friends of Europe highlighted the launch of the think-tank’s new report ‘Policy choices for a digital age: Taking a whole economy, whole society approach‘.

All four panelists agreed that old thinking is redundant.

“Data is very different from oil, which is limited and controlled by monopolies. A 21st-century data policy must be built on sharing and duplication, because the value of data lies in its analysis,” remarked Michael Mandel, Chief Economic Strategist of the Progressive Policy Institute.

“Data is everywhere and is all of us,” added Maximilian Strotmann, a member of the Cabinet of Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market. So besides sharing and collaboration, data must be “distributive and not handled top-down”.

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