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Neelie Kroes is, in short, a woman of power. Born in 1941 in Rotterdam, she is a Dutch and European politician for the liberal VVD party. Being said to have broken every glass ceiling, she was former European Commissioner for Competition and Digital Agenda (2004-2014), first female underminister at the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management (1977-1981) and the Minister at the same ministry (1982-1989)

A model for female emancipation in the 1960s and a person that was never afraid to go after the tech giants, Neelie Kroes has put her stamp on European and World Politics. Now she is coming to Room for Discussion (3rd of October, 13:00) to review the tense situation within the EU and show some insight into what could be done to overcome the division that is now more present than ever.

 

Europe’s Domino Effect

 

The European Union has not had the most terrific two years. With Brexit, rising populism and increasing Europhobia, there is a clear uncertainty to what the future holds. The recent developments in Poland and Hungary being a reference point toward the direction in which most of the former communist countries are heading. Even without stating a right radical agenda, some parties are employing legislative changes that are aimed towards less civil liberty and more control. This happens especially in countries with a newly developed and fragile democratic system. The triggering of Article 7 against Hungary and Poland further stresses the turning point at which we have come.

It is important to keep in mind that the people themselves brought the populist parties to power. Starting from a divided left and the frightening appeal of populism there are different views on why the radical-right has soared in popularity recently. People seem to be more pessimistic about unity than ever before. When asked about the feelings towards the migration and the future of the EU, citizens of all ages are taken aback.

Considering this, it is normal to wonder about the future of the European Union and how we can deal with the rising radicalism. How will the opposition respond in order to come back to a much-wanted balance? What can the EU do without crossing the boundaries of national sovereignty? The sovereignty situation is particularly delicate. It was one of the most used arguments for Brexit in 2016, and people seem affected by it greatly.

With less than six months left until a possible goodbye to the UK, will the EU recover from the hit or will the combination of mistrust and populism result in a domino effect? A united market is more important than many realize in the race for data collection and artificial intelligence, and unfortunately, the EU is falling behind.

 

Can we surpass US and China?

 

The US and China have one big thing in common: a large market. With this comes an incredible amount of data. So incredible that by 2030, China will hold 30% of the world’s available data. Both of the powerhouses are pumping billions of dollars in new technologies to collect better data and employ some of the most brilliant minds. The EU however, is not. The slow movement of funds for technological research and the increased bureaucracy have kept the tech progress in EU at a still compared to the other economic powers.  But can the EU catch up with what America and China have been doing for quite some time?

Unfortunately, the EU already has a precedent of failed projects when wanting to keep up with economic and technological developments. The ambiguity of the Human Brain Project is one of the most famous. The €1billion project has not yet stated any discovery, but seems to go on even without having stated a clear future agenda. A recent Economist article advocates for inclusion rather than rivalry in the tech industry. And frankly, we couldn’t agree more. Why not create a prepared space for already developed AI to evolve and thrive rather than be adverse to it coming from another nation. Regulation involving AI seems to be a rather urgent matter, that neither China nor the US, seem to look forward to.

However, a problem arises. AI has not yet been viewed as a groundbreaking technology to improve economic growth and human advancement, but rather as a matter of national security. To be more direct, AI weapons that should be used as a defense mechanism for your own countries borders, which complicates the situation quite a bit for the EU.

 

What to ask

 

Mrs. Kroes is an advocate of a liberal market and an integrated EU that understands that cooperation beats competing. She was particularly involved in bringing substantial investments for the 4G network in the Union and believes that technology is at the basis of unification. Here are a few of the questions that we are particularly excited to get some insight on.

Should we allow foreign firms in the European market or help the development of local ones? How is the current division in Europe going to affect the integration of the AI market? Is the EU stable enough to get over the tumultuous period? Is nationalism just a phase or will we face a domino effect EU-exit? Tune in on Monday 8th in the E-hall at 13:00 to get some important insight into what the future of the EU looks like. Do not forget to tune in for our follow-up article on the discussion on Wednesday.