"Digital Transformation in Bulgaria - Challenges and Opportunities in the Context of Europe's Digital Future" is the opinion that ESC adopted at its most recent plenary session. It examines the impact of the digitisation process on key areas of public life and its importance for developing the economic potential of Bulgaria and improving the quality of life of the citizens, summed up the two co-rapporteurs Plamen Dimitrov and Radosvet Radev.
According to ESC, the rapid and profound changes in public life caused by the technological leap require changes in the management and organisation of institutions, as well as in the organisation and management of basic systems such as labour market, education, health, transport, environment, etc. In this regard, ESC warns that the digital transformation requires significant investments by the public and private sectors and their difficulty or delay will lead to a decline in the competitiveness of our country. ESC emphasizes that the goal of digital transformation, which is expressed in the use of digital technologies, is to increase the productivity and competitiveness of businesses. ESC insists on assessment and analysis of the effect of the current documents, forming the environment of digitisation and their rethinking in order to overcome the lag of Bulgaria.
In its opinion, ESC makes a number of recommendations for accelerating the process of digitisation in our country. Among them, several main challenges stand out: the labour market, education and skills, disparities, entrepreneurship and the business environment, citizens and consumers.
ESC is convinced that the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is based on new technologies, requires a balanced approach, linking accelerated technological development with social justice.
The opinion also warns that the main challenges are technological unemployment, the disappearance of traditional occupations and the emergence of new, precarious employment, non-standard forms of employment, low or no opportunity to negotiate basic elements of the labour process.
ESC is of the opinion that the challenges facing the labour market in the context of digital transformation require the undertaking of targeted and urgent changes in education and training systems in the workplace.
ESC notes with concern that with the introduction of new technologies there is a process of increasing inequalities in income, wealth, intellectual property and others. ESC also notes that access to connectivity is a decisive factor for the economic and social development of rural and mountainous areas, where the impact of the demographic crisis is particularly strong.
ESC pays special attention to the need to support small and medium-sized enterprises in their transition to digital technologies. According to the opinion, it is precisely SMEs that are exposed to high competition, but do not have enough human, financial and technical capital to maintain and increase their competitiveness in the context of the digital transformation.
ESC believes that the EU and Bulgaria face the issue of consumer protection and their rights when shopping from online shops, especially outside the EU. ESC also insists on the implementation of more reliable control over the safety of products imported by traders outside the EU. The opinion also draws attention to the need for basic training of citizens and especially children to work in an internet environment.