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article imageEU's Juncker admits: 'I still don't have a smartphone'

By AFP     Jun 30, 2017 in World

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker admitted Friday that he had not yet joined the smartphone revolution, as he helped launch the EU presidency of digital-savvy Estonia.

"I shouldn't say but I have to say it, I still don't have a smartphone," the 62-year-old head of the EU's executive arm said at a news conference in the Baltic state's capital, Tallinn.

"So I couldn't become prime minister of Estonia, this would be totally impossible," Juncker said alongside a smiling Estonian premier Juri Ratas.

He added that Ratas was aware of his lack of a smartphone, "which is why he sent me, like in the 19th century, a postcard inviting me to Tallinn."

Juncker, a former Luxembourg prime minister, uses an old Nokia mobile phone, EU sources told AFP.

His admission comes 10 years after Apple introduced the iPhone and launched a global smartphone boom.

It puts him in good technophobic company among world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who still does not have a Twitter account.

But it stands in contrast with US President Donald Trump, a prolific Twitter user whose most recent outburst about a TV host's facelift sparked a backlash on Thursday.

Estonia, one of the world's most digitally connected countries, said it would push digital issues as part of its six-month stint as president of the EU, which begins Saturday.

Ratas said he wanted the free flow of information to become the EU's "fifth fundamental freedom" -- after the freedom of movement for people, goods, capital and services, the pillars of the 28-nation bloc's single market.

Juncker said he counted on Estonia's "leadership" in the months ahead.

"Even without being a techie I know that our future is digital. Digital is the DNA of your country and it needs to become part of the European DNA," Juncker said.

But in the wake of a huge global cyberattack which spread from Ukraine to hit several countries this week, security was also a priority, he said.

"Success of the digital single market will also depend on the confidence of Europeans. That is why I hope we can learn from your experience on cybersecurity -- the scale of the risks is significant," Juncker said.

Estonia was the first state to be hit by a massive cyberattack, in 2007, which paralysed key corporate and government web services for days.

Estonia blamed Moscow, which denied the charge.

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