Telenor boss says Europe is the backwater

Telenor headquarters, Bulgarian MPTelenor headquarters.Photo: Norway Today Media

Telenor’s chief executive, Sigve Brekke, wants the EU to be a top team when the giants from China and the United States come to full size.


“Europe is facing a struggle over who will dominate the digital market,” warned Brekke.

NTB news met him in Brussels, where he met with Vice-President Andrus Ansip, and Commissioner Mariya Gabriel of the European Commission this week to discuss digitalization.

Net giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook are continuing to take more and more of the market,” said Brekke. At the same time, the Chinese will come fully to growth.

Europe is in the backwater. This is seen both both by politicians, and those in industry.

Three areas

Brekke believes it is urgent to seek out areas where Europe could become a leader. In the meetings with the European Commission,he drew special attention to three areas:

* Digital health services: Online solutions can be used in hospitals and in home care. For example, people can have alarms and motion sensors at home that are connected to the web, or they can measure blood pressure and blood sugar themselves.

* ‘Smart’ municipalities and cities: Digital solutions can be used, for example, to control traffic in cities or show people where there are available parking spaces.

* Digital solutions to help small and medium-sized businesses.

Brekke said that he also spoke for European centres of artificial intelligence. Here, he believes that cooperation is needed simply because no country or business in Europe is big enough to go it alone.

Privacy questions

Of course, the CEO also included some political recommendations for the EU summit.

He believes, among other things, that the EU should loosen some of the competition rules so that European digital companies can grow bigger. He thinks this is required to take up the competition with the giants from China and the United States.

Another question is privacy. Brekke said he fully supports the new privacy regulation that will come into force in the EU later this year, but he is more critical of the EU’s new initiatives relating to the protection of personal data online.

The concern is that the rules are so strict that they also put an end to the use of anonymous information, for example, to analyse traffic patterns.

“These regulations must not be such as to prevent the effective use of data,” he said.


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today