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Building on Today’s Achievements, the EU Can Harness Software’s Full Potential

This article originally ran on EurActiv on November 22, 2016.

We live with the benefits of software every day; so much so, in fact, it easy to underestimate its contribution.

Software contributes almost one trillion Euros to the EU’s GDP (including indirect and induced effects); if the software industry’s total contribution in Europe were a Member State, it would be the EU’s sixth largest economy. The software industry also supports jobs for almost 12 million people across Europe (including indirect and induced effects) and contributes more than 7 percent of all business R&D expenditure.

These figures are more than simply eye-catching numbers; they act as an important reminder to policy makers of the pivotal role of software in the EU economy. We call upon these policy makers to further help create a legislative environment that realises the full potential of software for Europe’s economy and citizens.

Software thrives on innovation. It evolves at exponential speed, increasing European competitiveness by boosting all other sectors of the economy. Unlike more traditional sectors of the economy, software does not need an external catalyst to bring about change — it is the catalyst. As the rate of innovation accelerates, the EU must embrace its ability to respond to change. To harness the full potential of software-driven innovation, the EU should continue implementing policies that will continue to encourage innovation and capitalise on the contribution of software.

The EU has taken some very significant steps in the last few years to foster its digital economy, breaking down national barriers and harmonising rules and regulations with the objective of unifying its digital single market. We can do even more.

Ensuring the free movement of data across borders, not only within the EU, but also globally, is therefore paramount in ensuring that Europe stays abreast of data-driven innovations. In this light, the Commission’s upcoming initiative on the free flow of data is an opportunity to recognise the general principle of unimpeded data movements and remove unjustified data localisation rules across the EU. The Internet of Things is already revolutionising our lives and opening a new world of opportunities. By pursuing policies that foster innovation and adopting a thoughtful and timely legislative framework, EU lawmakers can enable the EU to reap the benefits of IoT.

Our health, our wealth, our work, our social lives, our leisure, and our security are all improved by software, and the promise of further benefits is limited only by our imagination. Software is the key to the benefits of the 21st century; the EU should seize the opportunity.

**The figures in this article come from a report released today by BSA | The Software Alliance, prepared with data provided by The Economist Intelligence Unit. Read the report, “Software: A €910 Billion Catalyst for the EU Economy”, here.

Thomas Boué

Author:

Thomas Boué oversees the BSA | The Software Alliance’s public policy activities in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. He advises BSA members on public policy and legal developments and advocates the views of the ICT sector with both European and national policy makers. He leads on security and privacy issues as well as broader efforts to improve levels of intellectual property protection and to promote open markets, fair competition, and technology innovation in new areas such as cloud computing.

Prior to joining BSA, Boué served as a consultant in Weber Shandwick where he advised clients on a wide range of technology and ICT-related policy issues and represented them before the EU institutions and industry coalitions. In this role, he also served as policy and regulatory adviser for both EU and US telecom operators. Prior to that Boué worked for the EU office of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he was responsible for the lobbying activities towards the EU Institutions in the areas of trade, education, and labor, as well as for the organization and running of seminars on EU affairs for SMEs and business professionals.

Boué holds a Master of Business Administration from the Europa-Insitut (Saarbrücken, Germany), a Certificate of Integrated Legal Studies (trilateral and trilingual Master’s degree in French, English, German and European Law, from the Universities of Warwick (UK), Saarland (Germany) and Lille II (France) as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Law from the University of Lille II, France. He is based in BSA’s Brussels office.

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