Monday

22nd Jan 2018

Supercomputing lag could prompt EU brain drain

  • Gabriel: 'We need to be very honest with ourselves ... We are not in the top-ten or the top-five in the world' (Photo: European Commission)

The European Union's new commissioner for the digital economy, Mariya Gabriel, has said there is a danger that European computer experts will leave the continent because the bloc is lagging behind in the field of supercomputing.

“We need to be very honest with ourselves,” she told journalists in a briefing in Brussels on Tuesday (29 August).

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.

“We are not in the top-10 or the top-five in the world when it comes to high-performance computing but we have the potential to do it. That is why we already mobilised some financing for that,” she said.

Supercomputing, also called high-performance computing, is used in a range of areas to carry out advanced simulations, for example to model weather patterns, to detect and treat diseases, or to better understand earthquakes.

The fastest such computer, according to a ranking called the Top 500, is in China, where the second-fastest is also based.

The number three spot is Switzerland, which is not an EU member. The rest of the top-10 is dominated by the United States and Japan.

The first EU country on the list is the United Kingdom, whose meteorological office owns the 11th fastest supercomputer. Spain (13), Italy (14), Germany (17), and France (19) are the other EU states in the top-20.

In 2012, four of the 10 fastest supercomputers were in EU countries.

The EU tries to stimulate research into supercomputing through grants, but has so far taken a soft touch approach with little legislation.

The commission is currently in the process of gathering feedback from stakeholders on whether it should take legislative action. The one-month consultation process ends on Thursday.

“It's very clear: the European Commission alone, or member states alone cannot do it,” said the Bulgarian politician.

“The most important thing is to bring all the efforts together and to have a supercomputing power is also a question of our role in the world,” she added.

“If we don't have the capacity to analyse here, the risk is that it moves abroad. Could it mean that our researchers and our innovators have better chances to go where these supercomputing is functioning better?”, she said.

Western European club

She noted that only nine of the 28 EU member states had joined a European initiative to work together on high-performance computing.

Last March, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain signed a declaration supporting the development of supercomputing.

Since then Belgium and Slovenia also joined. Apart from Slovenia, all signatories are in Western Europe.

“In the next months I will try to bring the others on board and to have a more coherent approach,” said Gabriel.

Risk of polarisation

Speaking more generally about the digital economy, Gabriel warned of "a huge risk of new fragmentations, of new polarisation, of new isolation", between connected and unconnected people.

“Some jobs will be lost, others will be created, and between those two moments there is uncertainty. We need to accompany this process and to accompany the people," she said.

Gabriel became EU commissioner for digital economy and society in July. She was put forward by Bulgaria to join the commission after Kristalina Georgieva left the team.

Georgieva had budget in her portfolio, which was taken over by Gabriel's predecessor, Guenther Oettinger.

At age 38, former MEP Gabriel is the youngest-ever member of the European Commission.

Focus

MEPs to grill youngest ever EU commissioner

Mariya Gabriel, a Bulgarian MEP, is designated to take up the EU commission's digital affairs portfolio, although she has little experience with that file.

EU recycles old promise to fund supercomputers

The European Commission promised that the EU would spend around €1bn in public funding on the development of 'supercomputers', but a closer look at the legal documents revealed that this is based on old promises.

Opinion

Taking full benefit of supercomputers in Europe

Newly-announced financial help for so-called 'supercomputers' can help both EU member states, and small and medium-sized companies to grow - in fields such as health diagnostics, driverless cars and even earthquake predicting.

Opinion

Taking full benefit of supercomputers in Europe

Newly-announced financial help for so-called 'supercomputers' can help both EU member states, and small and medium-sized companies to grow - in fields such as health diagnostics, driverless cars and even earthquake predicting.

EU recycles old promise to fund supercomputers

The European Commission promised that the EU would spend around €1bn in public funding on the development of 'supercomputers', but a closer look at the legal documents revealed that this is based on old promises.

News in Brief

  1. Austria plans to sue Commission over Hungary's nuclear plant
  2. Puigdemont proposed as sole candidate for Catalan leadership
  3. Abbas in Brussels to discuss Palestinian state recognition
  4. Exiled Catalan leader leaves Belgium for first time
  5. CSU politicians set to oppose concessions to SPD
  6. Greek mass protests against use of 'Macedonia' in name dispute
  7. Oxfam report reveals inequality as Davos elite gather
  8. Macron: France would probably have voted to quit EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. How Oettinger's CO2 permit sale could fill Brexit blackhole
  2. New Polish foreign minister tries to charm EU commission
  3. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on agenda This WEEK
  4. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  5. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  6. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  7. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  8. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap