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If the European Union gives the green light, Oettinger will become the EU's digital chief in November (Photo: EU)

Europe's designated commissioner for the digital economy says Europe has to modernize faster to avoid being overtaken by high-tech companies such as Google. "We shouldn't get to the point that Google in future builds products such as cars or TVs and European companies are left with a supplier role," Guenter Oettinger said in a German newspaper interview.

Oettinger, currently Europe's energy commissioner, is set to take over responsibility for the 28-nation bloc's digital agenda from Neelie Kroes in November, pending approval from the European Parliament.

In the interview with the Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Oettinger said key industries such as IT, but also machine-building, the automotive sector and electro-technical companies should rise to the occasion. "Industry 4.0 cannot just remain a buzzword," he said.

The German EU politician told Welt am Sonntag he was heartened by the realization that "decision-makers in politics and industry recognize the dimensions of the challenge."

With regard to Google, Oettinger said he didn't fear Google because "it isn't guaranteed that Google's advantage will continue." Digital industries are changing extremely quickly, he noted. And he added that the European Commission has antitrust tools at its disposal to make sure companies don't have unfair advantages in Europe.