What Europeans are demanding is to be able to have confidence in the experts that are providing us information. Our recent debates on glyphosate and endocrine disruptors have proven the need for European scientific assessment that is more transparent and more independent, with better funded research so that risks can be identified and alternatives proposed. This is crucial. Today we have political debates that, at times, seek to take the place of scientific debate. Science must provide information on the dangers but also independently and transparently indicate scientifically proven alternatives. In no case must science be eclipsed to the benefit of political commitments which then become remarks by “experts” or words of authority; nor must it give way to public discourse which coincides with that of lobbies or industrial interests and makes the collective decisions our citizens expect of us less transparent.

The fifth key to our sovereignty concerns digital technology. This challenge is also one of an extensive transformation of our economies, our societies and our very imaginations. The digital transformation is not a sector of activity, it is not a contemporary anecdote, and Europe has a great deal to both lose and gain from it. Europe has this singular attachment to a continuous balance between freedom, solidarity and security, and this is precisely what is at stake in the digital revolution. Europe, which established a catchup economic model after the war, must take the lead in this revolution through radical innovation. So yes, throughout Europe, we must do everything in our power to have these digital champions, to attract talented scientists and entrepreneurs.

I know that some people do not agree with this. It is the economic policy that I wish to conduct in France. We are no longer living in times in which our economies can develop as if they were closed, as if talented people no longer moved around and as if entrepreneurs were tied to a post. We can regret this, but this is how it is. This digital revolution is being led by talented people and it is by attracting them that we will attract others. This is the direction the government is taking and what the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Economy and Finance, and the Minister of Innovation, Higher Education and Research, among others, are advocating within the government.

We will press on with these reforms, but Europe also needs to have ambition in this area. I want Europe to take a leading role in this revolution through radical innovation. I propose that, over the next two years, we create a European agency for disruptive innovation in the same vein as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the United States during the conquest of space. This must be our ambition. Today, we have a unique window to do it. We must drive this ambition, finance research in new areas such as artificial intelligence, and accept risks. Such an agency would make Europe an innovator and not a follower.

And rather than bemoaning the fact that the current leaders in the digital technology are American, to be followed by the Chinese, we must create European champions, we must invent in this global upheaval fair securities and efficient regulations. I want a Europe which succeeds in this digital transition, but it is disrupting our points of reference and our economic and social organization. And today, this digital continent has no standards, or more precisely, it has a law: the survival of the fittest. It is Europe’s responsibility to define its regulatory framework so as not to effectively be subject to the survival of the fittest here.