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.