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Renewing our pledge to make Europe digital

One year ago in Brussels I set out Google’s promise to train one million Europeans in digital skills by the end of 2016, responding to EU research suggesting nearly a million jobs by 2020 will not be filled due to a lack of these skills. We have seen such a huge level of demand for the training -- helping Europeans with skills that will help businesses to grow faster and to increase jobs and exports -- that, in just half the time we anticipated, we have already reached that goal. Now Google will aim even higher. Today, at our event with Friends of Europe, I shared our plans to double our commitment to train a total of two million Europeans in digital skills.

To be clear, this project is for everyone. Succeeding online shouldn’t just be for the privileged few. We want all Europeans, regardless of age, background or location to benefit. To that end, we’ve provided online training, created programs with universities and worked with microfinance organizations to find companies ready to grow.  Take student consultancy Fleed, a participant in our Activate course in Spain, which helps  connects students who want to go abroad with the right universities.  Our programmes are running all across Europe helping groups like Fleed- from helping German SMEs to find markets abroad, training unemployed Spanish youngsters on digital skills to helping young Italians with training and apprenticeships.

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Spanish entrepreneur Tano Lopez from Fleed explained how he's grown his business using the Web.

The people we've helped so far have done everything from opening organic retreats in Greece to creating the largest online angling channel in Scandinavia. Through them we’ve learned that every business is a digital business, and the web is your shop window for the world. We love seeing Europe's traditional industries and strengths multiply as they go online, and we can't wait to see what the next million will achieve.

It's not just about getting traditional businesses on the web. A whole new industry--app development--is taking advantage of the global market of the Internet. They’re hugely successful in Europe, and according to a recent report Android has created more than 1.2 million jobs in Europe -- jobs that simply didn't exist before the web. Take EyeEm, acclaimed by users as "Instagram for people who take actual photos," which is based in Berlin and employs 70 people… and counts Brazil and the U.S. as two of its biggest markets.

That's a fundamental change. When many of us were growing up, small businesses were local businesses. Only huge multinationals could source products worldwide or afford the latest technology. But now, with digital tools built for billions, anyone can scale up their business. We are entering the age of "micro-multinationals," where a smart business idea can go global at the swipe of a finger.

At Google, we’re known for our Search Engine - but we are also proud to be an engine supporting economic growth. Search, Maps, YouTube and our advertising tools bring new customers from down the street or across the planet. We help entrepreneurs as well. We are investing in tech startup communities in London, Madrid, Berlin and Warsaw. GV, our venture capital fund, is investing in European businesses and encouraging others to do the same.

Stories like these are the reason we gathered dozens of businesses in Brussels today and asked for their ideas on how to get Europe growing again. As the entrepreneurs creating jobs, exports, sales and profits, they have the best ideas on what will really help. One message was clear: they want a single digital market across the continent. With the web removing borders for marketing, sharing and doing deals, why should they remain for billing, tax and delivery? The two million people we train up need a complete single market, on and off, to make the most of their new skills, and to help Europe grow faster.