Back in February, we invited entrepreneurs from across Europe to celebrate their online success stories in Brussels. We also announced our plans to train 1 million Europeans in crucial digital skills by 2016. This week we're back, to focus on bringing the project to Belgium.

Belgium has a strong backbone of small businesses (SMEs); the country's creative flair is renowned worldwide. But not enough of those companies are online. Their internet economy represents 2.5% of GDP, less than next-door neighbour The Netherlands. But this isn't about Benelux rivalry: SMEs that embrace the opportunity to grow online generate new jobs twice as quickly and are 50% more likely to sell products and services abroad.

The government knows this, and Minister for the Digital Agenda Alexander De Croo is on a nationwide Tournée Digitale to get companies online. The Flemish and Walloon governments have similar projects. We’re keen to play our part,, so we're launching the Google Growth Engine programme in Belgium. It's simple: SMEs throughout the country get training in the essential digital skills they need to grow online. We'll work with small business associations Voka, Unizo and educational institute Syntra to deliver the courses, starting next month. The ultimate goal is to train 10,000 people in 2015 and 2016.
Last night in Kortrijk at the start of his digital tour, minister De Croo said: “It’s absolutely necessary to go the extra mile so that our SMEs can become European digital champions. I’m satisfied that Google shares that ambition with its Growth Engine programme.”

There are plenty of Belgian entrepreneurs who have already achieved growth through their smart use of the Internet, and we want to add more. The companies don't have to be techy, either -- two of our favourite examples are Maxime Verhulst with her fitness centre NewFit offering Zumba dance fitness classes in Zaventem, and Jules & Juliette, which sells baby clothes. Their actual shop may be in chic Knokke-Heist, the St.Tropez of the North Sea, but online, their customer base knows no borders. See here for more Belgian success stories.

According to Belgian retail body Comeos, 60% of Belgians shopped online last year, so the opportunity for Belgian businesses is huge. Our Growth Engine programme gives SMEs practical training that will allow them to take advantage of that opportunity.

Posted by: Thierry Geerts, country director Google Belgium

Smartphones and tablets have revolutionized the way we access information, and today people consume a tremendous amount of news on their phones. Publishers around the world use the mobile web to reach these readers, but the experience can often leave a lot to be desired. Every time a webpage takes too long to load, they lose a reader—and the opportunity to earn revenue through advertising or subscriptions. That's because advertisers on these websites have a hard time getting consumers to pay attention to their ads when the pages load so slowly that people abandon them entirely.

In April, we announced the Digital News Initiative (DNI) together with a group of European publishers, aimed at working together to build a more sustainable future for digital news.

Today, after discussions with our DNI partners in Europe and publishers and technology companies around the world, we’re announcing a new open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages, which aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web. We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads and to load instantaneously. We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant -- no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you are using.

The project relies on AMP HTML, a new open framework built entirely out of existing web technologies, which allows websites to build light-weight webpages. To give a you sense of what a faster mobile web might look like, we’ve developed this demo on Google Search:

Over time we anticipate that other Google products such as Google News will also integrate AMP HTML pages. And today we’re announcing that more than 30 publishers from around the world are taking part too.

This is the start of an exciting collaboration with publishers and technology companies, who have all come together to make the mobile web work better for everyone. Twitter, Pinterest,, Chartbeat,, Adobe Analytics and LinkedIn are among the first group of technology partners planning to integrate AMP HTML pages.

In the coming months we’ll work with other participants in the project to build more features and functionality focused on some key areas:

  • Content: Publishers increasingly rely on rich content like image carousels, maps, social plug-ins, data visualizations and videos to make their stories more interactive and stand out. They also need to implement ads and analytics in order to monetize the content and to understand what their readers like and dislike. The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project provides an open source approach, allowing publishers to focus on producing great content, while relying on the shared components for high performance and great user experience. The initial technical specification—developed with input and code from our partners in the publishing and technology sectors—is being released today on Github.
  • Distribution: Publishers want people to enjoy the great journalism they create anywhere and everywhere, so stories or content produced in Spain can be served in an instant across the globe in say Chile. That means that distribution across all kinds of devices and platforms is crucial. So as part of this effort we’ve designed a new approach to caching that allows the publisher to continue to host their content while allowing for efficient distribution through Google's high performance global cache. We intend to open our cache servers to be used by anyone free of charge.
  • Advertising: Ads help fund free services and content on the web. With Accelerated Mobile Pages, we want to support a comprehensive range of ad formats, ad networks and technologies. Any sites using AMP HTML will retain their choice of ad networks, as well as any formats that don’t detract from the user experience. It’s also a core goal of the project to support subscriptions and paywalls. We’ll work with publishers and those in the industry to help define the parameters of an ad experience that still provides the speed we’re striving for with AMP.

We hope the open nature of Accelerated Mobile Pages will protect the free flow of information by ensuring the mobile web works better and faster for everyone, everywhere.

If you’re a piano afficionado, then you’re quite possibly also a fan of the great Polish piano virtuoso and composer Fryderyk Chopin. And if that’s you, you’re in luck: starting today, 78 of the world’s greatest pianists and new talents from 29 countries are gathering in Poland for the “Chopin Olympics”, more properly known as the International Fryderyk Chopin Competition.

This year, Google is the official partner of the competition, which runs throughout October. For the first time, you can watch all the performances on YouTube, including livestreaming of some of the concerts. And you can delve deep into the history of the competition and into Fryderyk Chopin’s history via two new online exhibitions on the Google Cultural Institute.

The Chopin Piano Competition started in 1927 and is one of few competitions in the world devoted entirely to the works of a single composer. Winners of the past editions became one of the greatest pianists in the world like Argentinian Martha Argerich or Polish Rafal Blechacz. Visit the Institute’s YouTube channel,, to watch more than 120 hours of performances, interviews with pianists, behind the scenes footage, and the Grand Finale concerts held from 18th to 20th October.

And on the Google Cultural Institute you can also view two new exhibitions, curated by the Polish National Fryderyk Chopin Institute. The first exhibition draws on an archive of more than 200 rare documents to guide you through the fascinating life of the child prodigy who developed into one of the Romantic era’s truly international superstars, before meeting an untimely death at the age of 39.

The Institute’s second exhibition provides an immersive, multimedia overview of Chopin’s piano music and the historic competition from 1927 to the present day. It unveils hidden stories, personal letters, original manuscript compositions, and great background footage about the early competition performances and the jury’s secret decisions.

The cherry on the cake for serious music lovers is a unique gigapixel image of a rare original composition penned by Chopin in 1833, entitled Fantasy-Impromptu in C sharp minor. The imagery is so sharp that you can examine every handwritten note, annotation and correction in minute detail:

We hope you’ll tune in to the Chopin Institute YouTube channel for some awe-inspiring performances - and that you’ll be inspired by the exhibits. Oh, and… best of luck to all the competitors!

In France, just like in other cultural centres in Europe, the YouTube creative community is booming. French creators like Poisson Fecond (a psychology student who delights and educates 700,000 fans every week) and Cyprien (a comedian whose videos have been viewed nearly a 1 billion times) are building global audiences on YouTube. And well-established cultural organisations like the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel are using YouTube to share French history and culture with viewers around the world.

With all the creativity coming out of the French capital, it was obvious that we should open a YouTube Space -- a collaborative space with state-of-the-art equipment that can be used for free by anyone with a growing YouTube channel -- to help the local YouTube community find even more success.

The Paris YouTube Space is our third in Europe - the others are in London and Berlin. Since 2012, more than 25,000 creators, from emerging comedians to established TV stations, have visited London and Berlin Spaces to produce over 1,500 high quality, highly original videos. Collectively, they’ve garnered over 225 million views and 16 million hours of watchtime from their fans.

We’re happy to invest in our European YouTube Spaces because European creators are… well… talented and prolific! A quarter of videos watched on YouTube worldwide are created by Europeans, helping propel European culture onto the global stage.

At the same time, YouTube has become a vehicle for Europeans to build businesses—more than 3 million creators and partners in Europe make money on YouTube from advertising and we’re looking at new ways to send even more revenue to our creators.

Back at the YouTube Space Paris, as we officially open the doors for the first time, the first month of workshops are already fully booked, and the excitment is palpable. It’s impossible to predict what the French communauté de créateurs are going to create here, but I can’t wait to see. And nor can the billion people out there on YouTube, waiting to press play.

The European Festivals Association (EFA) has been uniting distinguished music, dance, theatre and multidisciplinary arts festivals from Europe and beyond for more than 60 years. EFA’s new platform EFFE – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe, celebrates Europe’s festival landscape. This week, our Google Cultural Institute announced a new collaboration with EFFE that increases access to Europe’s diverse and exciting festivals through the use of digital tools.

It’s a partnership that makes sense. We both work towards the same goal: maximising access to arts and culture. As Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics earlier said about EFFE’s initiatives: “Festivals are one of the most visible and accessible means we have at our disposal to bring Europe’s rich and diverse culture to its citizens. I want Europe to promote its cultural diversity by helping festivals, artists and creators to reach new audiences and to make the most of the new technologies and of the enormous talent we have on our continent. EFFE makes it easy for citizens to find a festival that interests them – whether in their region or in another part of Europe.”

The Google Cultural Institute offered EFFE to help increase festivals’ exposure and their use of digital tools. 40 representatives of European festivals gathered at the Google Cultural Institute’s Lab in Paris for a workshop with engineers to talk about partnerships and technological developments in the cultural sector.

Today, we’ve also launched the online exhibition Festivals at the Heart of Europe, curated by theatre and opera director Tom Creed on the Google Cultural Institute platform. This exhibition takes users through an interactive tour of the development of festivals in Europe from a post-war peace building effort to the multi-disciplinary and experimental festivals of today.
At an award ceremony in Paris, an international jury rewarded 12 of the most innovative European festivals of this year from a pool of 760 festivals from 31 countries. The 12 winners are all featured on the online exhibition, giving audiences a more in-depth and experiential look at what festivals are doing in Europe today.

It’s estimated that up to 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world--the vast majority of them used by less than 100,000 people. But for those native speakers, the web--roughly a third of which is in English--is pretty inaccessible.
The Google Translate Community is an effort to bring the web to more global communities… and more global communities to the web. Over the past week, thousands of proud Frisians from the Dutch province of Friesland--including school children at CSG Liudger Burgum--have rallied to contribute over 200,000 thousands of translations to the database in an effort to make their culture and traditions more accessible. That’s an impressive feat for a language spoken by just 400,000!
School kids at the CSG Liudger added translations last week

Translation is part of our ongoing effort to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful, and this is as true today as more and more parts of the world come online as it was in 2006 when we first launched Google Translate. By improving the quality of translations on the web we can give people access to useful, relevant content and reduce barriers to understanding on both sides.
If it weren't for the Translate Community, we wouldn't be able to bring many small languages that now include Basque, Catalan and Welsh and even lesser-known tongues like Sinhala in Sri Lanka or Sesotho in South Africa. While our translation algorithm learns from language found on the web, we’re grateful for the contributions from the global community that make our systems even smarter.

With the help of the Frisian people, as more Frisian is added to Google Translate, we hope to be able to translate Friese passages--including on websites and even street signs-- into dozens of other languages for people from around the world to understand and appreciate. We value all the support we've received over the last week and we hope that together with our communities, we can improve translation quality for Frisian and even more languages in the future. Quality translations help bring cultures and languages online, preserving them for their own people through the web, and promoting them to the world.
While we’re incredibly impressed by the progress made in just a single week, we’re just getting started and have a long way to go. So far, more than 100 similar translate-a-thons--including those in Nepal and Myanmar--have added more than 10 million words to the Community. That’s 17 times more words than Tolstoy used for War & Peace!
But as more than 500 million people use Google Translate every month, the more than 1 billion translations a day are even more important than ever to help people communicate and access information across languages. You can help us to make the experience even better by suggesting your corrections using "Improve this translation" functionality on Translate and contributing your own lingua franca to the Translate Community.
Posted by: Meghan Casserly, Communications Manager Google Netherlands

We’re huge fans of the amazing creative Europeans who make a living entertaining, educating and informing people around the world via YouTube.  So we were delighted to be asked by EU40, a group of 106 members of the European Parliament aged 40 or less, to help them celebrate creativity across Europe at an event in Brussels last night.  

MEP Victor Negrescu, board member of EU40, invited Matt Brittin, President of Google Europe to speak at the European Parliament -- and asked him to gather together YouTube stars from across Europe who are creating businesses, driving social change and telling the world about what's happening in Europe's vibrant cultural scene.
YouTube creators from across the continent gathered at the European Parliament

At the event, attended by citizen journalist Eliot Higgins, YouTube make-up guru Tricia Cusden and Spanish teacher David Calle, Matt announced that there are now more than 3 million YouTube partners across the European Union, all of them making money on YouTube. And there are hundreds of channels across the continent earning six-figure sums annually.

Our partners are using YouTube in all kinds of different ways. For some of them, it’s a vehicle to build a business. Take Patry Jordan from Spain. Patry is a beauty expert, image consultant and personal trainer with a legion of followers on YouTube. Her channel, 'Girls’ Secrets,' has turned her into a household name: she's become a L'Oreal beauty ambassador and has recently published her own book.  

YouTube is also a platform for social change, creating new sources of information and news for citizens. Tilo Jung uses his channel Jung+Naiv (meaning young and naive -- see what he did there?) to cover German politics in a way which is entertaining, engaging and relevant especially for young voters. His irreverent videos show him being a rare millennial voice in the government’s press conferences.

If European history and culture are your thing, you can find that on YouTube has too. Centuries-old European institutions like the Berlin Philharmonic, Madrid’s Prado Museum and the Vienna Film Festival are all finding new, vibrant audiences online. Tobias Moller from the Berlin Philharmonic told us all about how YouTube helps one of the most classic names in classical music broaden its online repertoire.

Food is a huge part of European culture, and a major global export too, so we roped in ‘French Guy Cooking, part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Network, to whip up some snacks together with Jamila Cuisine from Romania. Delicieux!

We’re glad to say that these YouTube stars proved inspirational for MEP Victor Negrescu and his colleagues: “People involved in politics can learn from these digital creators and think of new ways of using the internet to engage with citizens in an open and transparent way, for instance by using video. When I see the amazingly successful European creators we have here today, I realise that we can do so much more. And I want to make sure we can prepare a European environment where digital creativity can truly flourish.”

We couldn’t agree more.  And thanks for the invitation, EU40!

Posted by: Tobias Mckenney, Public Policy Manager