I found myself in a bit of an awkward situation when I had to explain to my friends why I would be flying to Brussels this week. Sure, I knew the official answer. I have been selected as one of the 25 members of the ”Young Advisors Expert Group on implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe” (yeah, I had to copy-paste that). I suppose it looks nice on my CV. And I will be visiting the capital of the European Union for the first time.
While I was looking forward to the trip, I didn’t really have a clear idea on what to expect. There was some strange paperwork I had to fill in, some very formal documents sent around that say a lot and yet nothing at all at the same time. It started to look a bit better when they created a Twitter list of YAG members
. I admit I also felt a bit intimidated by some pretty impressive CVs from my fellow group members. What do I possibly have to offer? I don’t even pay as much attention to politics as I should, because I get frustrated about the endless talking and too little meaningful action. Discussing important issues is all well and good, but if you don’t follow it up with concrete actions, it’s just a nice hobby suitable for lazy Summer evening on a terrace, with a glass of fine wine in your hand. I know, I know, big political decisions are hard and should not be made lightly. But hard doesn’t mean impossible.
My first YAG meeting
Most doubts I had quickly disappeared once I actually met the other members of the YAG group, some members of DG Connect
and (my new hero) Neelie Kroes
, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
. We kicked off the meeting
by touching upon some common concerns, such as obstacles faced by startups, the inefficiency of our school to prepare kids for a digital future (and present), the lack of a single digital market and so on. But, also encouraged by Paul André Baran
, the Romanian Digital Champion, we quickly agreed that we shouldn’t spend too much time complaining about things we all know to be wrong, but rather switch to proposing solutions. Of course, there’s not much actual power you have as an external advisor. But we can bring a fresh perspective to the table, one not yet spoiled by the bubble of big institutions.
Diversity is key to finding innovative solutions. And I was pleasantly surprised to see how open the whole DG Connect team was to listening to what we had to say. They asked us to be frank and we embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly. What do we have to lose by speaking our minds? Nothing, but a lot to gain. I also loved the fact that they kept encouraging us, as a group, to get together and come up with practical propositions for the EU related to the Digital Agenda
. Sure, the road to action is a long one and maybe even covered with wild plants, but it’s good to know it exists.