Monday

20th Jan 2020

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)

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"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.

News in Brief

  1. Malta: Another minister resigns over Caruana Galizia murder
  2. Belgian region threatens to block EU-Mercosur trade deal
  3. EU to cut pre-accession aid to Turkey by 75 percent
  4. Libya peace talks: 'new spirit' to find solution
  5. EU financial firms flock to UK
  6. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  7. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  8. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition

Agenda

Davos and Libya in focus This WEEK

The all-powerful will meet in Davos after Berlin tries to resolve the Libyan conflict over the weekend, while MEPs will set the stage for final ratification of the Brexit deal.

Boost for Right in post-Brexit EU parliament

The far-right Identity and Democracy will overtake the Greens as the fourth-largest party in the European Parliament on 1 February, after the UK's MEPs vacate their seats.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us