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Joanna Shields calls on EU leaders to elect a "digital president"

Questions whether current candidates have the right attributes

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Tech City UK chairman Joanna Shields has called upon the EU to elect a president that realises the importance of entrepreneurship and technology in Europe’s future growth.

In an open letter published today, titled It’s Time for the “Digital Generation” to lead change, Shields argues that elected leaders of the EU should nominate a "digital president" who can ensure that the needs of the people building Europe’s digital future are included in driving the region's political and economic progress.

“As it currently stands, we must question whether the main candidates being proposed for president of the European Commission have the attributes to unlock the rich opportunities [of a digital economy]” wrote Shields.

“We must urge the elected leaders of the EU to nominate a president who can ensure that the needs of the people building Europe’s digital future are included in driving its political and economic progress.”

There are five main candidates for the European Commission presidency. They include: Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg) - centre-right European People's Party (EPP); Martin Schulz (Germany) - centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D); Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium) - liberals (ALDE); Ska Keller (Germany) - Greens; and Alexis Tsipras (Greece) - European Left.

At the end of the letter, Shields, who held executive roles at Facebook and Google before joining Tech City UK, calls upon readers to add their signature.

"We, as technology leaders across Europe, are asking for your support," she said. "Please add your signature to this open letter, to send a clear message to the EU Commission: the next President must recognise the importance of this moment in time and the critical role that entrepreneurship and technology play in Europe’s future growth and competitiveness."

Shields failed to mention Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission and leader of the EU's Digital agenda, in her letter. 


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