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Innovation Day: Can regulation support innovation in the digital sector?

SCOPE EuropeNews

In light of today's Innovation Day, one particular question came to mind: Regulation versus innovation. Or can regulation support innovation?

Given the fast-paced advancements in the digital and tech sectors an open, competitive and innovation-friendly regulatory environment is of particular importance to allow for the EU’s digital transformation and the materialization of the goals of the Digital Decade Program 2030.

Yet knowing the technical complexity, the struggle to keep pace with innovations and the cross-border nature of technology regulating such sectors is surely a challenge.

So what is the best way to regulate the digital environment without hindering innovation?

It necessitates the creation of synergies that allow policymakers, supervisory authorities, and private stakeholders to engage in ongoing constructive dialogues on market developments. Moreover, it requires modern regulations and new tools that are capable of concomitantly fostering competitiveness and innovation while guaranteeing trust, security and privacy.  

Because change is at the core of innovation, modern regulations should be designed to both withstand and allow for change. GDPR is a good example of a modern regulation because it was designed to keep up with technological advancements by presenting a toolbox that supports its implementation. Such a toolbox includes codes of conduct and certifications that allow GDPR requirements to be tailored to the needs of a specific industry, thereby providing the necessary leeway to boost innovation and growth. These co-regulatory tools generate bottom-up as well as top-down synergy effects, resulting in significant benefits for all stakeholders - both public and private - and especially for small and medium-sized businesses, which is indispensable for the materialization of an inclusive digital transition in Europe.

The bottom line is regulation and innovation are inclusive terms. Both should strive to live in symbiosis. Surely that will take a lot of effort on both the side of public and private stakeholders. Yet the collaboration between them is possible by making use of a smart mix of regulatory instruments.