Europe Regional Internet and Development Dialogue 2017

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Internet of Opportunity: Will the Internet Benefit all Europeans?

In partnership with Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and European Committee of the Regions
About Regional Development Dialogues

This conference is part of a global series of Internet development conferences organized by the Internet Society with the aim of furthering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that aim at tackling the world’s main development challenges by 2030. Previous Regional Internet Development Dialogues have been held in Asia Pacific, Latin America & Caribbean and Africa.

Format & Audience

This event will gather participants from government, local authorities, business, and civil society to discuss the development of the Internet and its relation to economic growth, digital economy and social inclusion with a focus on European regions and local communities. The event will be divided into four thematic sessions – jobs, innovation, remote access and skills. The objective is to highlight success stories from across Europe and to encourage the European regions and communities to make them most out of the Internet opportunity.

Setting the scene

The Internet is transforming Europe’s rich cities. The metropolises benefit from the fastest high-speed connections. They are the site of most startups and new tech jobs. What will happen to less populated regions and disadvantaged urban fringes? This is the question that the Internet Society, the Committee of Regions and CEPS will attempt to answer in a day-long conference.

Leading policymakers and businessmen will be on hand to present research and opinions. Together we will discuss the progress in bringing fast-speed broadband to the far reaches of Europe. We will debate whether the Internet is killing rural jobs – or if it could create new long-distance positions. We will hear from success stories of regional innovation clusters.

Session 1: The Internet as a driver of economic growth

Panel 1: The Internet as a driver of rural and regional growth

The internet is a motor for economic growth but also a source of concern. How should local decision-makers address the challenges without compromising innovation? The Internet provides access to tools needed for entrepreneurship as well as a global online marketplace that can enable entrepreneurs to flourish anywhere in Europe – in the small cities and countryside as well as in cities.

Big data, cloud services and the internet of things all provide opportunities to European regions to participate in a data economy led by new innovative companies. Digitisation of public services delivery in areas such as education and healthcare can create significant efficiencies for local authorities.

The impact of the Internet on the labour market represents opportunities and challenges. ‘Uberisation’ threatens traditional jobs and changes the nature of employment, while automation is beginning to replace current jobs. None of the top 20 largest Internet companies driving these changes and generating much needed jobs and revenues originated in Europe.

European regions must adapt to the changing nature, and sometimes location, of employment, and create enabling conditions to generate and attract new types of jobs.

Panel 2: Leveraging the new Internet platform

With a few clicks of the keyboard, the Internet allows anybody, anywhere in the world, to connect to each other – and to launch a new business. Europe is home to more apps developers than any other region in the globe. Apps developers can be located anywhere, even in the most far-flung regions. Independent developers, including startups and hobbyists are driving much of this entrepreneurial activity. Some, such as Finland’s Angry Birds creator Rovio, are growing into big companies. These EU developers are forecast to generate €63 billion in revenue next year and employ 2.8 million persons.

Traditional industrial areas are also the site of giant new Internet infrastructure investments. Google has invested upwards of €1 billion to refurbish an old, shuttered Finnish paper mill as a sparkling new data centre. Google also has invested billions in a new data centre located in the middle of Belgium’s former coal-mining region. Both the new and old industries required the same inputs, cheap energy to power them and water for cooling them.

Session II: Developing an inclusive and secure digital economy for all

Panel 3: Connecting Europe to far-flung regions?

The Internet opportunity can only be realised if all European citizens have access to the Internet and possess the right skills to use and create content in a secure manner. What can local communities do to help increase digital inclusion and bridge the digital skills divide?

Digital inclusion requires Internet access across all European territories. Internet infrastructure must be extended to unserved areas and basic broadband connections upgraded for local communities and citizens to fully benefit from the digital economy and online services.

Panel 4: Education and trust in the digital economy

What will happen to laid-off car workers, coal miners and forestry farmers? New Internet-created jobs will require a combination of cognitive, physical and emotional skills. For example, as construction work becomes digitalised, successful construction workers will need the ability to both use a shovel and manipulate a drone. Paper plant workers and coal miners can be transformed into data center technicians.

The bottleneck is the ability to train people quickly and cheaply in new skills. Our training and educational technology have failed to keep up with our needs. As a result, the development of such skills occurs at a slower pace than technological progress, resulting in skills shortages and mismatches. While this issue had already been documented for specialised occupations such as IT professionals, more recent research suggests that digital skills and competences are needed for a wide range of occupations.

For more information, please contact the Internet Society European Regional Bureau at

Europe RIDD 2017 Agenda 


Image credit: Jack Haskell via flickr: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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09:00 – 18:30

Tuesday 07 November 2017


CEPS Conference Room

Place du Congrès 1 - 1000 Brussels

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