PromethEUs – a new network of four Southern European think tanks – marked its debut on the EU stage hosting on 13 October its first Digital Conference, entitled “A new framework for Europe’s digital rules. Leading the path towards AI and digital services revolution”.
As the European Commission is preparing to put on the table in the coming months two of the main legislative packages of the current institutional cycle – the Artificial Intelligence legislative framework and the Digital Services Act – and the debate on those issues has been intensifying within the European Institutions and in the national capitals, PromethEUs provided a forum for an open and high-level discussion in order to take stock of the Commission’s Digital Strategy in view of the next institutional steps.
The conference gave the floor to 20 high-level speakers, including EU and national key decision-makers, and brought together more than 100 stakeholders from Brussels and the national capitals, including representatives from EU and national institutions, research and business organisations, trade and consumer associations and other relevant stakeholders.
Among the speakers, there were Roberto Viola, Director General, DG CNECT, European Commission, who delivered a keynote speech on “Setting European Rules for the Global Digital Era”; Members of European Parliament Eva Kaili (Chair of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology, STOA); Alex Agius Saliba (Rapporteur on DSA), Maria-Manuel Leitão-Marques (Vice-Chair IMCO Committee); AIDA Special Committee Members Edina Tóth (Vice-Chair), Brando Benifei and Susana Solís Pérez. Speakers also included the current and future chairs of the EU Council Working Party on Telecommunications and Information Society, Robert Dehm, Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU and Ricardo Castanheira, Permanent Representation of Portugal to the EU. Mirella Liuzzi, Undersecretary of State, Italian Ministry of Economic Development, sent a written contribution to the discussion.
PromethEUs was represented by Stefano da Empoli, President, I-Com – the Institute for Competitiveness; Óscar Fernández, Senior Researcher, EsadeGeo; Aggelos Tsakanikas, Scientific Advisor, IOBE.
High-level speakers from the business, academic and civil society organisations also joined the event: João Castro, Head of Digital Experience Lab and Professor at Nova School of Business and Economics; Cinzia Guido, Chief Operating Officer & Senior Digital Adviser, Confindustria EU Delegation; Luc Hendrickx, Director, Competitiveness of Enterprises – External Relations – Legal Affairs, SMEunited; Iverna Mcgowan, Director Europe Office, Center for Democracy and Technology – CDT; Ursula Pachl, Deputy Director General, BEUC – The European Consumer Organisation.
Alex AGIUS SALIBA
Alex AGIUS SALIBA, MEP, Rapporteur on DSA, IMCO Committee
Eight months after being elected as a new Member of the European Parliament from one of the smallest countries in the European Parliament, Alex Agius Saliba was listed by POLITICO Europe as one of the 20 MEPs to watch in 2020.
A lawyer by profession, Agius Saliba’s political career started when he was relatively young. He occupied the role of Secretary General and President of the Forum Zghazagh Laburisti within his country’s Labour Party, for a number of years. Agius Saliba was also a member of the Malta Labour Party’s National Executive committee, a post to which he was elected with the largest number of votes from the party’s delegates in 201
At 30 years of age, he got elected for the first time as an MEP and has since been serving on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL.) and as an S&D Co-ordinator in the Committee on Petitions (PETI). MEP Agius Saliba’s first official position as an S&D spokesperson in the Employment Committee for six different reports included to scrutinise the spending of public money by the European Commission and other EU institutions and agencies. Moreover, his responsibilities will be to report on the performance, financial management and control of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and the European Training Foundation.
More recently, Alex Agius Saliba has been put in charge of the IMCO Committee’s report on the Digital Services Act, a future piece of legislation expected from the new European Commission that will set rules on how platforms such as Google and Facebook police illegal content online.
Pablo ARIAS ECHEVERRÍA
Pablo ARIAS ECHEVERRÍA, MEP, Shadow Rapporteur on DSA, IMCO Committee
Born in Madrid, Mr. Arias is Member of the European Parliament since 2019 in the 9th legislature and previously between 2009 and 2014 in the 7th legislature. His career in Brussels began in 2000, when he was assistant to Alejandro Agag, Secretary General of the Christian Democratic International in Brussels at that time. Between 2002 and 2004, he was assistant to Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. Between 2004 and 2009, he served as chief of cabinet of former Prime Minister Aznar.
Currently, Mr. Arias is serving on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Transport and Tourism. He is also part of the European parliament’s Delegation for relations with the United States. Mr. Arias is highly engaged in promoting a safe and fair digital ecosystem in the European Union. In this context, he is the EPP rapporteur of the IMCO report on the Digital Services Act.
Mr. Arias has followed the courses of the Superior School of Marketing and Management in ESEM, International School of Business Management (Madrid) and a Master in Business Administration and Management (ESEM). He also completed a Leadership Program for Public Management at IESE (Madrid).
Brando BENIFEI, MEP, Member of the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age
Brando Benifei, European Federalist, is from La Spezia, Italy, and is the Head of Delegation of the Italian S&D MEPs. His main areas of work are Internal Market and Consumers Protection, Employment and Social Affairs, and Constitutional Affairs. He is rapporteur for the Single Market Program and shadow rapporteur for the European Social Fund Plus. He is active on youth policies, digitalisation and rights of persons with disabilities.
In the previous term, he was responsible for the European Solidarity Corps, for the Post-Arab Spring in the MENA region and for key reports on the social inclusion and integration of refugees into the EU labour market, as well as youth employment policy such as the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative. He was also co-chair of the Youth Intergroup and vice-chair of the Disability Intergroup. In 2018, he received the MEP Award for his work on Employment and Social Affairs issues, for his work on youth unemployment. In 2016, Forbes included him in its annual 30 under-30 most influential in EU Politics list.
Ricardo CASTANHEIRA, Counsellor, Permanent Representation of Portugal to the EU
Ricardo Castanheira is, since 2017, the Digital Counselor Coordinator at the Permanent Representation of Portugal to the European Union (REPER), in Brussels.
Previously, he was General Manager at Motion Picture Association – Latin America (2013-2017), which represents institutionally the biggest studios in the world: Walt Disney, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Universal, Paramount and recently Netflix.
Ricardo Castanheira was also the Director of Corporate Affairs for Microsoft Brazil, from 2011 to 2013; Legal and Corporate Affairs Lead at Microsoft Portugal, from 2007 to 2011; CEO of FDTI (Foundation for the Promotion of Information Technologies), in Lisbon, between 2005 and 2007. For many years he practiced law as a main partner of CAPA – Law Firm, in Coimbra.
Between 1995 and 2002, he was the youngest MP in the Portuguese Parliament, elected for Coimbra. He was also a Member of the NATO Assembly (1999/2002) and a petitioner of the “Committee of the 24” at the United Nations, in NY. He actively intervened in diverse entities such as ABPI (Brazilian Association of the Intellectual Property) and the Federation of the Portuguese Trade Chambers in Brazil. He´s graduated in Law (1997) by the University of Coimbra and he holds diverse additional post-graduations: on Negotiation by the University of Harvard – John F. Kennedy School of Government (Boston); on Communication Management by Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV/Brazil); an Advanced Management Program (AMP) by Instituto de Empresa – Business School (Madrid) and a Mini – MBA by INDEG Business School (Lisbon).
João CASTRO, Head of Digital Experience Lab and Professor at Nova School of Business and Economics
João Castro is Associate Professor (Affiliate) at Nova School of Business and Economics, where he teaches in master and executive programs. He is also Academic Supervisor of the Digital Experience Lab. João has served extensively in industry, leading and managing innovative technology projects such as the first website designed for broadband in Portugal, the world’s first fully contactless ticketing system for multi-modal public transportation and the deployment of wifi and online services for the entire academic community in Portugal, including the first nation-wide implementation of federated network authentication for academics (eduroam). Among other projects, he also contributed to the pilot program in electronic voting in Portugal. After concluding the Ph.D in Engineering Systems at MIT, he spent a short time at Stanford University as a post-doc with the Center for Design Research and later was the director of disruptive innovation for a leading FMCG beverage company.
Stefano DA EMPOLI
Stefano DA EMPOLI, President, I-Com – the Institute for Competitiveness
Stefano da Empoli is the President and principal policy analyst at I-Com (Institute for Competitiveness), a think tank based in Rome and Brussels. He also adjunct professor of Economics at Roma Tre University. He is a member of the Italian Government High-level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence and the European AI Alliance. Stefano published many essays and articles on digital issues, such as artificial intelligence, innovation policy, broadband, 5G, cloud computing, digital platforms. His latest book is “Artificial intelligence: last call”, published by Bocconi University Press in 2019. He has also undertaken study and consultancy assignments for Italian and international public institutions, including the Senate of the Republic, the Department for EU Affairs, OECD, leading companies and non-profit organizations.
Robert DEHM, Attaché for Telecommunications and Information Society, Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU
Robert Anton Dehm works as a Councellor in the Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU, and since July 2020 is Chair of the Council Working Party for Telecommunications and Information Society (for the duration of the DE Presidency).
He served as Policy Officer at the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, within the Economic and Societal Aspects of the Digital Agenda, Digital Sovereignty unit.
He also served as First Secretary for Industry Policy at the German Embassy to the United States, Washington DC. He has a Master’s degree in Economics at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.
Oscar FERNANDEZ, Senior Researcher, EsadeGeo
Óscar Fernández is senior researcher at the EsadeGeo-Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics (Madrid-Barcelona). His research and publications pivot around digital regulation, international security, great power relations, and global governance. Prior to joining Esade, Óscar worked at the World Health Organization’s Barcelona Office for Health Systems Strengthening, and at Public International Law and Policy Group in Sarajevo. His research has been published by peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Health Policy), as well as by leading academic institutions (e.g., University of Barcelona, University of Fribourg). Moreover, his articles have featured in prominent media outlets, such as Project Syndicate and El País.
Cinzia GUIDO, Chief Operating Officer & Senior Digital Adviser, Confindustria EU Delegation
Cinzia Guido is Chief Operating Officer and Senior Digital Adviser at the EU Delegation of Confindustria (main Italian business Federation). She is responsible for advocating Confindustria’s position on Digital Economy vis-à-vis the EU institutions and within the EU business community. She conducted advocacy activities on several crucial fields, among others: Digitisation of Industry, Privacy, E-Commerce, Cybersecurity, Data Economy, Platform economy, A.I..
She is member of the World Manufacturing Foundation’s Steering Committee and of the trilateral cooperation Germany-France-Italy on Industry 4.0. She is staff member of Digit@lians.
She owns a degree in Industrial Production Engineering (gained with 110/110 cum laude at the Polytechnic of Turin) and a Master Degree in Technology and Industrial Production (a double degree programme of the Polytechnic of Turin and the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona). Her dissertation “Banco Espirito Santo: Bank Capital Structure”, was published by Lap Lambert Publishing House in 2013.
Her past work experiences include two internships as Financial Analyst in the Investment bank division of Lehman Brothers (Apr.08/Jul 08) and Morgan Stanley (Oct 08/Apr 09), and a Blue Book Internship at the EU Commission (Sep 10).
Kilian GROSS, Head of Unit ‘Technologies and Systems for Digitising Industry’, DG CNECT, European Commission
Since 16 of January 2020 Kilian Gross is Head of Unit A/2 in DG CNECT responsible for Technologies and Systems for Digitising Industry. His Unit is responsible for the implementation and development of the Digitising European Industry Strategy including the setting up of a network of Digital Innovation Hubs in the EU. The Unit manages a number of important research projects under H2020. It developed the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence and is currently preparing the proposal for a European Approach to Artificial Intelligence.
Beforehand since November 2015 Kilian Gross was a member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Oettinger. Within the Cabinet, he was mainly responsible for the Commission Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and DG HR. When Commissioner Oettinger was responsible for the Digital Economy and Society, Kilian Gross took care of research, the data economy, e-commerce, innovation and infringements. On the non-portfolio side he dealt inter alia with state aid, energy and climate and trade issues.
From February 2010 until 2015, Kilian Gross was Deputy and Acting Head of Unit of Unit A/1 within DG ENER, which was dealing with energy policy coordination, planning and programming and legal questions. During his time in DG ENER the Unit has in particular prepared the Energy Roadmap 2050 and the Energy Framework for 2030. Beside the policy work, Kilian was namely responsible for the creation and management of a legal team within Unit A/1.
Before joining DG ENER in 2010 Kilian Gross was a member of the Legal Service of the European Commission. He was mainly responsible for tax issues and later for state aid files. In the later function he was involved in all state aid aspects of the Climate Change Package of 2008 namely the Environmental State Aid Guidelines and the Renewable Energy Directive. Kilian Gross was agent on behalf of the Commission in an important number of cases before the European jurisdictions.
Kilian Gross started his professional career as an in house lawyer mainly for competition law issues. He is a German lawyer by training with a strong specialisation in European and international law.
Luc HENDRICKX, Director, Competitiveness of Enterprises – External Relations – Legal Affairs, SMEunited
Luc Hendrickx is since 2000 Director of Enterprise Policy and External Relations at SMEunited (formerly UEAPME), the European employer’s organisation representing the interests of crafts and SMEs at EU level.
In this function he is responsible for SME policy, better regulation, legal affairs, internal market issues, retail, digitalisation, trade and standardisation. He is member of the board of EURid, the registry manager of the .eu and .ею country code top-level domains, Member of the Multistakeholder expert group to support the application of the GDPR and other advisory groups.
From 1997 until 2000 he was member of cabinet of the Flemish Minister of Environment and Employment. In 1989 he joined UNIZO, the Belgian SME organisation, as Legal Counsellor. Between 1992 and 1998 he also lectured at the Flemish Economic High School (VLEKHO) in Brussels. He started his career in 1986 as salesman in his sister’s do-it-your self shop.
Luc Hendrickx has a Master of Laws from the Catholic University of Leuven (B), a Diploma from the Institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales of Nice (F) and a Master in European Studies from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (S).
Eva KAILI, Member of European Parliament, Chair of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA)
Eva Kaili is a Member of the European Parliament, part of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Delegation since 2014.
She is the Chair of the Future of Science and Technology Panel in the European Parliament #STOA, Member of the Industry and Energy Committee (ITRE), Member of the Committees on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Member of the Committee on Budgets (BUDG). In her capacity, she has been working intensively on promoting innovation as a driving force of the establishment of the European Digital Single Market. She has been the draftsperson of multiple pieces of legislation in the fields of blockchain technology, online platforms, big data, Fintech, AI and cybersecurity.
She is the founder of the Future Forum, a network of influential politicians, officials and public figures promoting innovation.
Maria-Manuel LEITÃO-MARQUES, MEP, Vice-Chair IMCO Committee
Maria Manuel Leitão Marques is Member of the European Parliament and vice chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).
From 2015 till 2019, she was the Minister of the Presidency and of Administrative Modernisation of the Portuguese Government, headed by Prime Minister Mr. António Costa. She was born in Mozambique in 1952. Deputy of the Assembly of Republic, she represents Viseu’s constituency (2015). She graduated in Law and holds a PhD in Economics. She is Professor at the School of Economics of the University of Coimbra (since 2003) and permanent researcher of its social studies centre (since 1979). She was Secretary of State for the Administrative Modernization both of the XVIII and XVII Government. She is vice-president of Association Internationale de Droit Économique since 1993.
Between September 2013 and September/October 2014, she was member of the selection committee from the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2013-2014 Mayors Challenge’s competition. She was member of High Level Group on Administrative Burdens (advisory group from the European Commission to reduce companies’ administrative burdens, specially the small and medium ones) (2013-14). She was international consultant of Casa Civil da Presidência da República do Brasil during the «Exchange between European Union and Brazil» project and international consultant of the «Conducting an evaluation of services of the one stop shop» project in Mozambique. She was Chairman of Observatório do Comércio do Ministério da Economia (1998-2002).
She coordinated several national and international investigation projects related to Economic Law, Competition Law, Sociology of Law and Public Administration. She also spoke in several conferences and published many papers in these areas. She was non-executive director of Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos (2013-2015).
Mirella LIUZZI, Undersecretary of State, Italian Ministry of Economic Development
Ministry of Economic Development -Secretary of State since September 2019. Former member of: “Secretary of the Bureau of the Chamber of Deputies”, of “Transport, Posts and Telecommunications Commission”, “Parliamentary Commission for the general direction and supervision of radio and television services”, “Parliamentary Innovation Group”. Enrolled in the parliamentary group of the Five Star Movement from March 27, 2018. Already Deputy in the XVII legislature. Involved on the innovation, tlc and digital themes.
Iverna MCGOWAN, Director, Europe Office, CDT
Iverna McGowan is Director of CDT’s Europe Office, and an advocate for ensuring international human rights standards are at the core of law and policy related to technology. At CDT, Iverna leads the Brussels-based Europe team that works to put human rights and democracy at the center of the European Union and its member countries’ tech policy agendas.
Prior to joining CDT, Iverna served as a Senior Advisor to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She led the work on protecting online civic space and human rights and technology more broadly for the European Regional Office. She was also the focal point on the rule of law and offered recommendations for the EU’s new rule of law mechanism.
Iverna previously served for seven years as the Executive Director and Advocacy Director for Europe at Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. Under her leadership, the office led and won a number of significant campaigns on human rights. On account of this human rights advocacy she was listed by Politico in 2017 as one of the most influential women on EU policy and law making. At the European Parliament in 2016, she accepted, on behalf of her team, the Sinti and Roma European Civil Rights Prize for the office’s groundbreaking work in strategic litigation under the EU’s Race Equality Directive. She also served as the organisation’s international spokesperson on EU affairs.
Iverna has also worked at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and, before embarking on a career in the public sector, headed up a team at the French IT, web infrastructure, and services company Groupe Open.
Iverna serves on the EU Board of the National Resource Governance Institute and is a previous board member of Transparency International’s EU Office. She was also elected by civil society peers in 2017 to the advisory panel of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. Iverna also founded her own consultancy which supports civil society leaders, and conducts human rights research and policy analysis.
She holds a B.A. in European Studies from Trinity College Dublin and an LL.M from Maastricht University’s School of European Law, where she was awarded a scholarship for having graduated as a top three percent scholar. She is a frequent commentator on human rights, EU foreign policy, and gender equality, and has contributed to pieces by Euronews, CNN, BBC, RTE, and Reuters.
Ursula PACHL, Deputy Director General, BEUC – The European Consumer Organisation
Ms. Pachl is the Deputy Director General of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation, representing 44 independent national consumer associations from 32 European countries. Before this, she has held different positions at BEUC, starting as Legal Advisor, then working as Senior Policy and Institutional Affairs Advisor.
In her current role Ms. Pachl leads BEUC’s work on digital policies, consumer rights, redress and enforcement. She is also responsible for horizontal and strategic policy such as EU governance and Better Regulation issues and represents BEUC in High Level groups, namely the European Commission’s High Level Group for Artificial Intelligence, the stakeholder group of the EU’s Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) and the European Commission’s REFIT platform.
Susana SOLÍS PÉREZ
Susana SOLÍS PÉREZ, MEP, Member of the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age
Susana Solís is an Industrial Engineer from the University of Oviedo, Machine Engineer from the Fachhochschule de Osnabrück (Germany), holds an MBA and a Master’s Degree in Marketing Management from the Insituto de Empresa (Madrid). She also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Leadership from IESE (Madrid).
She has over 18 years of professional experience in several multinationals in Germany (Mercedes Benz, Robert Bosch) and in Spain (Rexel, Essilor and Johnson & Johnson).
In May 2015, she was elected Deputy in the Parliament of Madrid, being the spokeswoman for Ciudadanos in the Committee on Budgets, Economy, Finance and Employment. Since May 2019, she is MEP in the European Parliament in the Renew Europe group and a member of the ITRE, ENVI, REGI and FEMM Committees and the Special Committee for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Agenda.
During her term as MEP she has focused her work in promoting a more innovative and smarter Europe, through a better use of Cohesion Policy and existing instruments such as the EIT.
Edina TÓTH, MEP, Vice-Chair of the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age
Edina Tóth was born in Hungary in 1975. Edina graduated in the Faculty of History and English at Pázmány Péter Catholic University in 1998, at Századvég School of Politics in 1999 and in European Studies at Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in 2000.
Edina Tóth started her political activities by becoming Vice-President of Fidelitas, the youth organisation of Fidesz in 1996. She was committed to support the work of the European Peoples Party (EPP) and was elected as a Vice-President of its student organization (EDS) in 1999.
As to her professional career, Edina Tóth was working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and MEP József Szájer in Hungary. She joined the EPP Group as an advisor in 2004 and worked for the Industry, Research and Energy Committee until 2019. She became Member of the European Parliament in 2019, and was elected as a full member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, and substitute member of both the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee and for the Industry, Research and Energy Committee.
With regard to her interest in the field of AI, she has become the only Hungarian member of the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age.
Aggelos TSAKANIKAS, Scientific Advisor, IOBE
Aggelos Tsakanikas is a Research Fellow, heading the Entrepreneurship Observatory, at the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (FEIR/IOBE), the leading private think tank for economic research in Greece. He’s also an Associate Professor, Director at the Laboratory of Industrial and Energy Economics (LIEE), National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) in the field of Economic Evaluation of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Systems. His main research interests and most of his published work are in the area of firms’ technology strategy, business strategy, innovation economics, entrepreneurship and related public policies. In the context of his research activity has been involved with numerous sectoral studies, studies on entrepreneurship and competitiveness, as well as studies on information society. Aggelos has also participated in various European projects in the area of innovation studies, socioeconomics research and information society. He teaches at the business administration postgraduate programme “Athens MBA” and he is a member of the Greek team that participates in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook. He has served as Vice chairman of the Hellenic Industrial Property organization (Greek Patent Office) from 2017 to 2019.
Roberto VIOLA, Director General, DG CNECT, European Commission
Roberto Viola is Director General of DG CONNECT (Directorate General of Communication, Networks, Content and Technology) at the European Commission.
He was the Deputy Director-General of DG CONNECT, European Commission from 2012 to 2015.
Roberto Viola served as Chairman of the European Radio Spectrum Policy group (RSPG) from 2012 to 2013, as Deputy Chairman in 2011 and Chairman in 2010. He was a member of the BEREC Board (Body of European Telecom Regulators), and Chairman of the European Regulatory Group (ERG).
He held the position of Secretary General in charge of managing AGCOM, from 2005 to 2012. Prior to this, he served as Director of the Regulation Department and Technical Director in AGCOM from 1999 to 2004.
From 1985-1999 he served in various positions including Head of Telecommunication and Broadcasting Satellite Services at the European Space Agency (ESA).
Roberto Viola holds a Doctorate in Electronic Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).