We in the European Commission have no objection to the tech giants from across the Atlantic, provided they play by the rules. But we Europeans must create as well as regulate. American firms cannot be the only conduit to the online world. So, as part of our single-digital-market initiative, in 2016 we will launch The European Commission’s Home for New-Economy Organisations (TECHNEO). Its mission is to back a new wave of European internet firms. Our goal is to nurture firms that can compete with America’s best, but to do so in a way that reflects core European values. We have already chosen a portfolio of four companies.
Europe’s new social network will be called Rulebook. Some of you will know the story behind Rulebook already. It was founded in 2014 and was initially used by stagiaires in Brussels to rate the most attractive European commissioners (congratulations, Jean-Claude!). But it has the potential to become so much more: a virtual embodiment of the community of European nations. Members of Rulebook will be required to post all their messages in the 25 official languages of the European Union: what we lose in spontaneity, we gain in solidarity. Accession requires the consent of all other members. And once you have joined Rulebook, you cannot leave unilaterally, but must be thrown out by the German members.
The Amazon business model of never actually making a profit is one that Jeff Bezos copied from Europe. Our new e-commerce portal, Fluß, will give Europeans a one-stop-shop to buy goods, services and digital content. As well as providing the chance to purchase some of our existing cultural patrimony, we will develop original content to be streamed via Fluß. A mini-series on taxi-drivers warding off the threat of illicit competition is already in production. The website will be closed on Sundays and in August.
Eiffel is our European search engine. Eiffel is built on the principle that data protection is a right, not an option. So only those individuals and companies that have opted in will appear in the results. (The exception is Britain, which has negotiated an opt-out from the opt-in.) At the moment this means that the volume of search results is unbelievably thin, but on the upside, loading times are really fast.
Lastly, Damson is the name we have given to Europe’s tech-hardware champion. We know that it will be hard to compete with Apple’s existing products, but there is an opportunity to leapfrog our American friends with entirely new product lines, such as a personal assistant for mobile phones called Varoufakis, which answers every query with a long lecture on economics. Damson is also trialling a mobile wallet called Schäuble, which is impossible for anyone to open. And the firm’s talented R&D team is working on a device called Hollande, the applications for which are unclear.
Some may question whether Europe needs TECHNEO. London, Berlin and Stockholm have thriving startup scenes. But we at the commission are best placed to know what Europeans really need. And we have many ideas—projects with code names such as Unter and Oiseau—for a second wave of Eurotech in 2017.