Do we need “free” Internet to save the European Union?

Do we need “free” Internet to save the European Union?

 

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Editorial 2016/10: Free internet

Maarten van Leeuwen

After all the years and months of turmoil in Europe, and the Brexit, it was becoming clear to the leaders that be that an answer had to be found for the woes of the ailing European Union. Finally, our visionary leader Jean-Claude Juncker has found one.

By 20XX (I forgot the exact year) there will be free Internet access in all European cities.

I was thinking: “this shows true audacity and vision. This is exactly what we have been waiting for, and with this, all Euro scepticism will disappear as snow in the summer.”

Or is it?

First, how “free” will this Internet access really be? Is Mr. Junckers going to fund this out of his private purse? Or have the leaders of Europe pledged that they will do so jointly out of their own, probably considerable, private purses?

Or will they demand the Telecom operators that they provide this service “free” of charge? And if so, will these operators not recuperate these costs by increasing tariffs on other services?

Or yet again, will these investments made by the individual state members? If so, how many of these members have so high budget surpluses that they may do this without somehow recuperate these in taxation?

In other words, this free Internet will not be free. In other words, it will be a service where we as citicens cannot decide with whom we work, what the quality of service will be, and nor how much we pay for it.

In other words, it is not more than yet another small, unnecessary and irritating meddling in our lives by a bunch of people we do not know precisely WHO they are, nor do we know WHO we need to vote for in case we do want to get rid of them. Which I believe is precisely the main reason behind Brexit. In other words, this action is going to make things worse. Not much worse, only slightly worse.

We do not need “free” Internet. What we need from Brussels is visionary, courageous leadership. Such leadership is unlikely to come from the Junckers’ of this world, who has spent the last 30 or 40 years of his life wheeling and dealing in corridors and behind closed doors.

We need a European constitution, and we need a European Parliament. The Parliament needs to control the Executive, and it needs to be clear who we need to vote for in order to get someone in, or out.

We need ONE language in the European Union, and Federal Legislation. This can be easily implemented as a second official language in all member states. Kenya, among many other nations, has both English and Swahili as official languages. The importance of a single language cannot be overestimated. This will give smaller companies – like Alvey – true access to the entire market. It will significantly reduce costs. It is the reason why most succesful multinationals are Japanese or American: they have access to one big unified language home market. Once succesful there, they may expand internationally.

The choice is ours. We can stay like we are, in our little “independent” member states with our own little languages and our own little laws. Or we can become one strong truly united and democratically controlled Europe. Ultimately, this is a choice between poverty and abundance.

Maarten van Leeuwen
Group Managing Director

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