companies' competitiveness, it reduces deficits by saving taxpayers' money. It will give olderEuropeans the possibility to live a better life with more independence and dignity as we facea carer shortage; it gives us new ways to cut carbon emissions, for example by more efficientenergy management and lighting technologies.There are lots of smaller practical benefits too – having a true Digital Single Market will delivermany improvements to daily life. Easier shopping online (with access therefore to a much widerchoice of goods and services), new markets for small businesses to reach, legal alternatives formusic downloads and so on.
You moved from the competition portfolio to a regulatory portfolio. What are thedifferences in opportunities you identify when moving from one to the other?
There is a regulatory aspect to the Digital Agenda portfolio, but it is also a horizontal, creative andinnovative portfolio, which involves cooperation with nearly all my Commission colleagues.Getting every European digital won't happen through only a few regulations. It requires a massivepartnership effort across all levels of government and industry. It requires a new business climate inEurope that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. So I think the real challenge is not indelivering regulation where it is needed, but in mobilising this movement for action and managingthe many component parts.There is also a very strong long-term aspect to this portfolio. We are funding very long-termresearch and finding ways to deal with massive but slow-moving changes in demographics andclimate, for example. Our work is about introducing people to new opportunities and helping themto feel comfortable with new lifestyles. So, I don't wish to minimise the need for regulationin telecoms, for example, but I have the chance and the obligation to do much more in thisportfolio.
As competition commissioner, one of your most high-profile corporate battles related tointeroperability issues with Microsoft. Interoperability is now listed as one of thepriorities in your draft 'digital agenda' for Europe. Is Microsoft still the main concern?
This is not just about Microsoft or any big company like Apple, IBM or Intel. The main challenge isthat consumers need choice when it comes to software or hardware products. Any kind of ITproduct should be able to communicate with any type of service in the future.Interoperability of equipment used, of services provided and of data exchanged promotes anincrease in user confidence, value and choice. It also promotes acceptance, success and take-up of new technologies and thus competition among providers. It empowers the user to make the bestchoice in terms of value for money and suitability without being locked-in to one specific companyor brand.Open standards are therefore vital to deploy interoperability between data, devices, services andnetworks. Internet is the best example of the power of interoperability. Its open architecture hasgiven billions of people around the world access to devices and applications which talk to oneanother.
What emerging issues do you see?
The digital Single Market is prone to positive network effects, based on the growing value of aproduct or a service as more people use it, but it can also lead to customer lock-in and lead todominant market positions. At the same time, innovation also depends on interoperability, meaningthat devices and services offered by different companies can communicate with one another.We therefore need to make sure that significant market players cannot just choose to denyinteroperability with their product. This is particularly important in cases where standards don't existor users are obliged to use a product in one way or another but there is no specification describingthe de facto standards it uses. Complex ex- or post- anti-trust investigations followed by courtproceedings are perhaps not the most efficient way to achieve this.To achieve the right balance between the interests of different market players, we will need tobetter assess and balance the costs related to whether different products and services areinteroperable or not. Under the Digital Agenda for Europe, we will examine the feasibility of introducing measures to make big market players license interoperability information.I fully support new and innovative products and services, and I believe that any unnecessaryintervention could potentially inhibit highly innovative companies and fledgling markets.Nevertheless, any company which holds a significant market position and acts against
Page 2of 6Kroes: Interoperability at heart of Digital Agenda25.06.2010http://www.euractiv.com/en/print/infosociety/kroes-interoperability-heart-digital-agen...