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Speech of His Majesty the King of Belgium - Business Forum

29 March 2017

Speech of His Majesty the King of Belgium
for the opening of the Belgium-Denmark business forum
Copenhagen, Wednesday 29 March 2017.


Your Royal Highness,



Ladies and Gentlemen,

In his wonderful tale "The Windmill", your great author Hans Christian Andersen, whose statue faces this building, evokes the soul that survives change. He describes an enlightened windmill that stands proud upon the hill and talks about itself and the people living inside it, whom it describes as its mind and its heart. When the old windmill is destroyed by fire, a new and more modern one is built in its place. Although it is completely different, the mind and the heart of the miller and his family remain unchanged.

This image of the windmill seems a fitting way to introduce the seminar that brings us here today. Not only because we have been struck by the expanses of wind turbines since our arrival in Denmark, but also because this tale highlights a very important principle: as technology progresses, human beings must remain the central concern.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

According to a recent survey carried out by the European Commission, Belgium and Denmark are in the top tier of Europe's most digitally advanced economies and societies. The level of digitisation in our countries is higher than that of our large neighbouring countries. We can justifiably be pleased about this, given that a global 'performance race' is very much a reality. Moreover, it compels Europe to improve its own performance.

By bringing together our expertise and experience, as is already the case in the area of e-health and the seamless transfer of data, we can strengthen our positions as pioneers. Today's seminar is part of this objective. Our businesses and universities, our entrepreneurs and researchers, our start-ups and spin-offs are the creative drivers of the profound change that is happening in such fundamental areas as health, town planning and transportation. These changes could potentially bring major disruption to our economies. For our governments and our businesses, it is crucial now more than ever to grasp all the opportunities offered by technology, and to constantly innovate, to avoid the risk of being irrevocably left behind.

Your Royal Highness,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Like Andersen's windmill, let us continue to be "enlightened and proud" of the quality of our research and our technological output. Above all, let us combine our strengths to make the right choices so that, despite the headwinds, technology will continue to facilitate human development, with the result that, like in the tale, the soul of our societies endures.

I wish you all fruitful exchanges and favourable winds.