I have always agreed with Capote’s view that autumn, not spring, is the season of beginning. This year, as the world is still grappling with the pandemic but policymakers are also beginning to envision a new future, I hope that autumn will bring critical reflection and seriously fresh thinking to Brussels.
In the panic and rush to respond to a public health crisis, it is perhaps inevitable that expediency trumps other values such as openness and transparency.
However, now that governments everywhere are introducing massive investments in digital solutions to help the economy recover and make our future societies more resilient, we should insist on openness to be built in from the start. Already high on the agenda in the now seemingly distant pre-COVID times, the global pandemic has highlighted the geopolitical importance of digital sovereignty. Having this term defined in terms of open and user empowerment rather than national or regional protectionism seems more relevant than ever. Other examples range from considering open hardware solutions in healthcare materials to the need for interoperable solutions and open data in tracking and analysing epidemics.
As an organisation that was “born digital”, OFE has managed the transition to working online relatively seamlessly and it’s been an unusually busy summer. Our recent newsletter highlights some of what’s been keeping us at work and what we are looking forward to over the next few months. On a personal level I wish for a future – not too far away– that’s a bit less digital. Here’s to Brussels finding a way to return to in-person events and networking! And as a parent, I hope that in the area of education we can think outside the box. What if online classes are not the only way to limit the spread of the virus while meeting our children’s (and parents!) need for school? What if we also consider outdoor classes and invest resources to allow teaching to take place in smaller groups?
It’s been a rentrée like no other. Let’s hope this is not the new normal.