Zuck, Europe & VivaTech – Stockholm syndrome?
Tuesday evening May 22, Marc Zuckerberg was received with great pomp at the European Parliament during an exceptional hearing. This moment of pride for the deputies was more the opportunity for them to improve their image with the voters, by relieving themselves of the flood of reproaches aimed at their inaction against the technology giant since the Cambridge Analytica affair, than to propose to real solutions.
For several months, many voices have been raised to criticize the slowness and European naivety in the face of the power of the GAFA, which would undermine the digital sovereignty of European states. And, if it is true that the questions of the MEPs were much better prepared than those of the American Senators a few weeks ago, and perhaps more likely to destabilize the founder of Facebook, the latter did not do it. not mistaken: the GAFA are still in a position of strength and Europe remains a digital colony of the American and Chinese powers. And yet, they continue to exert a fascination on us!
Affected by a sort of Stockholm syndrome, Europe vacillates between repulsion and fascination with GAFA. The deputies, first surprised to learn that Mr. Zuckerberg accepted their invitation, let the social network impose their conditions: the questions of the various political groups first, the answers en bloc at the end, leaving him the possibility of choosing them . Which he did very skillfully. Over the entire session, 2/3 of the speaking time was devoted to questions from MEPs, leaving around twenty minutes for Zuckerberg to happily choose those he wished to answer, before suspending the session himself to take his “flight” for Paris.
Indeed, he was welcomed on Wednesday 23 as a true Head of State at the Elysee Palace, to meet there Emmanuel Macron and part of the French government, as part of a “Tech for good” meeting, accompanied by the leaders of Uber, IBM or even Microsoft. It is well known, Facebook is a major player on privacy, and Uber on the future of work! As for his day on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg planned to spend it at the Vivatech, Porte de Versailles, in order to redo a walkabout, after the intense pressure he suffered in the European Parliament. Ultimately, the strength of Europe lies in not being afraid of paradox.
If Europe suffers from this symptom of the ‘kidnapped’, it is also because it has no escape. Or at least, that she struggles to take a step back to find alternatives. When MPs ask the young billionaire if he knows a Facebook competitor, it is more out of curiosity than out of a desire to trap him. Are there real alternative solutions in Europe, are we giving ourselves the necessary means for these competitors to emerge? Do we give ourselves the means to invent the next big thing, the innovations that will make today’s giants obsolete? In China, critics are fired against the GAFA, but the means have been invested to change the situation. Pushing international free trade agreements to the limits, it has protected its market to allow national technology players to develop, has put all its weight to ensure that Chinese data is stored in China, while investing heavily in breakthrough innovations, the key to tomorrow’s growth and sovereignty.
We must, in Europe, intellectually and strategically, rediscover the ambition of rupture. The ambition of freedom.
Spokesperson for the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI)
“The European Moonshot Factory”
Spokesperson for JEDI, former Special Advisor to the Minister of the Armed Forces, founder of ACAPITAL André Loesekrug-Pietri, of French and German nationalities, has held positions of responsibility in private equity, in ministerial cabinet, in industry and as an entrepreneur .
He is currently the (pro-bono) spokesperson for the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI), which aims to ensure that France and Germany regain their leadership in disruptive innovation. A graduate of HEC, Harvard Kennedy School, he was named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (Davos). He is a private pilot and Colonel of the Citizen Reserve of the Air Force.