Belgium is heeding the call to go digital. Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Digital Agenda, presented his Digital Belgium plan this spring and is now consulting with stakeholders.
Minister De Croo’s plan calls for action in five pillars, which should help Belgium to capitalize on the digital revolution’s promise of growth, jobs and prosperity:
- Digital infrastructure:
Belgium needs to invest in state-of-the-art infrastructure to allow the digital economy to continue to mature and to fully exploit the potential of big data and the ‘internet of things’.
- Digital confidence and security:
Fostering trust will be a key factor for growth. The public has to be confident that their data are safe online.
- Digital government:
The Belgian governments need to adapt to the changing times, and Minister De Croo has set the goal of conducting all communication with citizens digitally by 2020.
- Digital economy:
At the heart of the digital economy are startups. By some estimates, the digital economy will create five new jobs for every two that disappear over the next few years.
- Digital skills and jobs:
The future job market will require nine out of 10 people to possess digital skills. To meet demand, digital training and education will be of paramount importance.
For each of these pillars, the plan outlines various priority projects. A number of proposals have already been put forward, including new tax measures to support investment in digital assets, for example.
Digital Single Market
The ‘Digital Belgium’ strategy sows the seeds, but for Belgian digital startups to truly blossom, they need to be given the chance to grow beyond the country’s borders. Starting up is one thing, but scaling up is another. While startups in the US have ready access to a market of more than 320 million consumers, the EU’s cyberspace is still largely fractured along national lines. Creating a Digital Single Market is one of the priorities of the current European Commission. A Digital Single Market of 28 countries and 500 million consumers will spur competition and innovation.
AmCham Belgium welcomes Minister De Croo’s ambitious ‘Digital Belgium’ plan, which he presented personally at a recent meeting of our Government Relations Forum. Over the coming weeks and months, the Chamber intends to gather further input from our members to share with the Minister.
Photo Credit: Startup Stock Photos