How Open Digital Ecosystems Can Boost Europe’s Competitiveness

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of Euractiv Media network.


Advertiser Content An Article that an external entity has paid to place or to produce to its specifications. Includes advertorials, sponsored content, native advertising and other paid content.


Europe’s future lies in creating open digital ecosystems where openness, choice and collaboration thrive. As CEOs of two European companies, Lynx and Wire, we believe these principles are essential for fostering innovation and driving European competitiveness.

Stan Larroque is the CEO of Lynx, and Benjamin Schilz is the CEO of Wire Group.

In his recent report, the former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta called for bold changes to strengthen the EU’s Single Market and boost innovation. The Antwerp Declaration, from February this year and supported by over 1,000 organisations from all sectors of the European economy, emphasises the importance of fostering manufacturing in Europe, crucial for our companies.

By encouraging open digital ecosystems, the EU can support new generations of European manufacturers and foster economic growth. Open ecosystems empower consumers to choose their preferred devices and services, leading to greater innovation and competition.

Open digital ecosystems present a promising avenue for growth, creating fresh opportunities for startups, attracting investments, and driving economic expansion and job creation. They also allow for true digital sovereignty for both our political systems and customers, who are able to execute informed choices when it comes to technology.

Characterised by open standards, interoperability and freedom of choice, these ecosystems cultivate a competitive market environment. While they exist on a spectrum, and it would be simplistic and unrealistic to advocate for absolute openness, the benefits of leaning towards openness are clear. For a Europe with no mega tech giants of its own, embracing a more open stance offers superior opportunities for innovation and market dynamism.

Artificial intelligence is one area where openness is crucial. Openness allows for transparency, collaboration and scrutiny, which can help address and assuage fears surrounding the technology. Equally, it provides consumers, businesses, start-ups and researchers with access to the agents, tools and computing power of their choice, opening up social and economic opportunities. Europe can harness this to encourage innovation in areas such as education, health and transport.

As the Internet of Things continues to expand, the value of openness becomes increasingly evident. Consider smart home technology, for example. The adoption of open standards facilitates seamless integration, significantly enhancing both consumer experiences and innovation. By embracing these open standards, manufacturers can collaborate more effectively, creating interoperable products that function together without friction. This not only broadens consumer choice but also elevates the overall user experience with more integrated and reliable smart home ecosystems.

Interoperability is good for developers and consumers. It enables different technologies to work together across different hardware and software. It has enabled millions of developers to write millions of applications that work on billions of devices. And it gives consumers the freedom to choose which apps/services they use on which devices, without being locked into one company’s ecosystem.

Messaging services is another example. Connecting currently isolated messenger-services will provide great benefit to consumers, who don’t need another application for every single chat they’re in. And it will enable regulated businesses to use secure, privacy-conscious messengers while retaining the possibility to connect to customers and business partners on other messaging apps.

Similarly, the metaverse and mixed reality offer significant opportunities. Open ecosystems can encourage collaboration and innovation in virtual worlds, enabling developers to create immersive experiences that benefit users and drive economic growth.

However, some companies set out to purposefully employ multi-layered strategies designed to lock in users, creating restrictive “walled gardens” that stifle competition. By advocating for open ecosystems, Europe can circumvent these practices and position itself as a leader in AI, virtual worlds and other emerging technologies. This approach not only promotes fair competition but also encourages innovation and diversity in the tech landscape.

Security is often cited as a concern with open digital ecosystems. However, open-source systems allow for broader scrutiny and faster vulnerability detection, enhancing security. By inviting collaboration and transparency, open-source systems can address security concerns more effectively than closed systems.

As the EU gears up for a new mandate, it is crucial in our view that it prioritises the development of open digital ecosystems to drive competitiveness. Utilising the regulatory instruments at its disposal, such as the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act, the EU has the opportunity to foster a more open and competitive digital market. This is the driving force behind our collaboration with other forward-thinking organisations in the Coalition for Open Digital Ecosystems (CODE).

Promoting competition, adopting flexible regulations and empowering consumers can create a digital environment that fosters innovation and growth. Letta’s report emphasises supporting SMEs to foster competitiveness. It is music to our ears.

We believe fervently that policy-makers should focus on key areas such as consumer choice, open access and emerging technologies. Standards that facilitate switching, support secure services, and disallow design patterns hindering choice are vital. In emerging technologies, policy-makers should ensure that AI works for the benefit of all, exploit virtual worlds’ potential, and build a competitive cloud ecosystem.

Supporting open digital ecosystems transcends technology; it’s fundamentally about cultivating a competitive and innovative economic environment.

We are steadfast in our belief that open digital ecosystems are crucial for boosting Europe’s competitiveness and fostering innovation.

By emphasising interoperability and empowering consumers, the EU can shape a digital future that benefits businesses, consumers, and society at large. This focus not only drives economic growth but also ensures a more inclusive and accessible digital landscape.

It’s high time for policy-makers and industry leaders to act and ensure that Europe remains at the forefront of digital innovation, balancing economic growth with sustainability. Open digital ecosystems provide the foundation for a vibrant digital economy, promoting innovation, competition and consumer choice.

CODE is a coalition of companies that believe open digital ecosystems are better for businesses, consumers and society. Its members are Flywallet, Google, Honor, Lynx, Meta, Motorola, Nothing, Opera, Qualcomm, and Wire. The Coalition aims to foster collaboration among academics, consumer groups, companies, policymakers and startups in a collective effort to embed the principles of openness, such as consumer choice, access and interoperability.

Subscribe to our newsletters