Startup Communities’ Questions to Commissioner Vestager

[Brussels, 3 October] Startups should be in the centre of the European Commission’s plans for the digital economy, which is why Allied for Startups has questions to be asked to Commissioner-designate Vestager at her hearing on Tuesday, 8 October.

Concurrently to the hearing of Commissioner Vestager, Allied for Startups is releasing its position on the role of the intermediary liability exemption for startups and scaleups. This release is coupled with the release of a mapping of platforms in Europe, which provides concrete examples of players in the ecosystem. It shows the interconnectedness and complexity of the platform ecosystem in Europe. 

Questions to Commissioner-designate Margrethe Vestager:

1) Startups are driving innovation and growth in the EU, yet in your Mission Letter they are only a sub-point in a new SME strategy. Startups are not SMEs. Amongst other things, they think global from day one, aim to grow fast and big, and create jobs three times faster than other actors in the economy. What role do startups play in your goals for a ‘Europe fit for the digital age’? 

2) Startups entrepreneurs think big. Last month President Macron promised 5€ billion late-stage investment funding for startups, coupled with the target to create 25 unicorns in France by 2025. How many unicorns in Europe should we aim for by 2025, and how can the European Commission support them?

3) The E-Commerce Directive is a foundational piece of legislation for the digital economy, in part because it lays out a clear and robust intermediary liability exemption. How do you plan to draft a Digital Services Act that will encompass all the specificities of the platform economy and that will not hinder innovation in the EU?

4) Startups often face disproportionate costs when new legislation is implemented. Often times new rules end up being costly for small players, de facto giving more market power to larger players. While trying to address imbalances in the market, what will you do to avoid new types of imbalances and unintended consequences?

5) Commissioner-designate Goulard stated that startups should not have to jump through 27 different hoops of regulation in order to scale up in Europe. What measures do you propose to further the harmonisation of a Single Market for startups?

6) Competition and digital policy are two big portfolios to bring together. In a digital economy, the notion of dominance but also the concept of consumer welfare need to be updated to account for new realities and empowered users. Startups have a unique place in this debate. How will you ensure taking into account the startup-life cycle in your considerations around reforming competition law for the digital age?

7) In your first 100 days you propose putting forward a European approach to artificial intelligence. In this short timeframe, how will you take into account the needs and ambitions of thousands of startup entrepreneurs in Europe working in this field?

8) All across Europe, countries are implementing their own startup visas. Will you compare and contrast these in one central portal and support the development of a European Startup Visa?

You can find our position paper on intermediary liability here.

You can find our e-Commerce mapping here.

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