The SME Connect’s roundtable discusses the role of SMEs in the current EU regulatory context for IoT technologies

April 2nd 2019, Restaurant La Maison du Luxembourg, Brussels
Vodafone’s new European policy approach to IoT
The SME Connect’s roundtable discusses the role of SMEs in the current EU regulatory context for IoT technologies

On Tuesday 2nd April 2019, Vodafone Group’s Robert MacDougall, Olti Xhezo and Javier Villegas-Burgos presented their extensive analysis of IoT adoption and regulation in Europe which might be unprecedented in nature and scale.

What is IoT?

To turn off the air conditioner with your smartphone is one thing, but for manufacturers and companies “The Internet of Things” is the notion that we should sensor and gather data from objects and then manage them intelligently. This leads us to improved productivity by making an effort only when and where it is necessary. Warehouse Management and logistics are the most obvious example of such applications but sensors that measure a cow’s tail movement and notify the farmer when a calf is underway have become a reality as well. The possibilities are truly limited only by the human imagination.

The Vodafone study shows that well over half (57%) SMEs that have adopted IoT say they are achieving significant benefits ranging from improved collection of accurate data, increased employee productivity, better asset utilisation and enhanced customer loyalty.

The current EU regulatory requirements

The current EU regulatory requirements are still too complex and uncertain as a large number of provisions are ambigious or applied differently to each case of IoT adoption.

This calls for change

To safeguard Europe’s IoT potential in digitally connected world and to harness new opportunities from the rollout of 5G networks, European policy needs to be truly technologically neutral and the need for separate authorisation in the different Member States must be replaced by identically applicable rules across Europe.

The new policy approach suggests that SMEs reasonably endeavor to share non-personal, machine generated data by making their computer hardware available to a shared network (FRND), taking full account of any related security, privacy, competion law or confidentiality considerations, certify IoT devices in accordance with a recognised cyber security best practices and contractually require their business partners to do the same.

Along with our guests from the industry and service sector, the informal event was attended by the Members of the European Parliament Dr. Paul Rübig (EPP), Seàn Kelly (EPP) and Nadja Hirsch (ALDE). In the restaurant’s relaxed atmosphere speakers and listeners took the opportunity to exchange their genuine reactions and thoughts on these emerging technologies and ventured a careful glimpse into the future following the presentation of the experts.

SME Connect’s roundtable brings experts and decision makers together to discuss necessary EU policy changes for the benefit of small and medium enterprises. SME Connect invites all its members to the exclusive members-only event on a bi-annual basis. Our experts will continue to share the proposals with a range of relevant stakeholders and have already organised an event in Brussels on 29th April 2019 to discuss how Europe can further enhance its competetiveness in relations to IoT. For specified information on the event and how to attend please contact us at