Saturday

21st Apr 2018

Focus

EU should keep out of innovation's way, Wikipedia-founder says

  • Wikipedia-founder Jimmy Wales says that to encourage innovation, policy-makers should keep out of the way (Photo: wikipedia.org)

To encourage innovation in Europe, policy-makers should just keep out of the way, Wikipedia-founder Jimmy Wales has said.

"I agree with the idea of streamlining and simplification. The only thing is that I would be much more extreme," he told EUobserver on Tuesday (8 May) on the sidelines of a conference in Brussels on EU innovation policy organised by global accounting firm Ernst & Young.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The most important thing that Europe needs to do to spur innovation is to eliminate barriers," he added. "To make it easier for investors and entrepreneurs to start businesses and to make it easier to fail."

Compared to his native US, founding a company in Europe is famously burdensome - even though big differences exist between the north and the south of the continent.

In the US, the whole process does not have to take longer than five minutes. In Greece, it can take up to ten months.

Wales, who recently started work as an (unpaid) advisor to the UK government in London, is a strong believer in the free market.

According to Wikipedia, he is “a self-avowed objectivist-to-the-core, referring to a philosophy emphasizing reason, individualism and capitalism”.

He said that government funding often “seems like a way to help, but it actually may be doing more damage than good,” citing “unintended consequences”.

“There is a lot of tax money being spent on things that entrepreneurs and investors would not [spend money on],” he said. “And the reason why they do not is because they make no economic sense.”

The result, said Wales, is that “instead of getting a genuine, world-class infrastructure, you get some sort of government-funded mess that does not quite work.”

Wikipedia founder: European red tape hampering growth
Innovation

As the EU continues to struggle with the effects of the economic crisis, the importance of investing in innovation and research is increasingly been emphasized. But how much money is enough and where should it be spent? EUobserver investigates.

EU innovation efforts unknown

The efforts of the EU to turn the old continent into an “innovation union” are largely unknown to business leaders, according to a survey by global accounting firm Ernst & Young.

The Acta debate - will innovation be stifled?

Opponents of Acta, the controversial anti-counterfeiting treaty up for vote in the European Parliament in July, say, among other things, that it would stifle innovation. Advocates say the exact opposite.

EU scientists 'suppliers for the economy'

Ties between science and business in Europe have always been weak. But that is changing - to the chagrin of some. The case of a Belgian scientist who participated in an anti-gmo protest is likely to fuel the debate.

Agenda

Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK

The European Commission will present proposals to protect whistleblowers, combat fake news and organise the digital single market. The international community will gather in Brussels to discuss how to help Syrians in the current war and after.

Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform

France and Germany have pledged to forge a joint position on euro reform by June, despite German reluctance on deeper monetary union.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists