Digital technologies have reached a degree of maturity that allows their use across a wide range of economic sectors in manufacturing as well as in service industries. According to the 2010 edition of the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), more than 50% of the EU workforce use ICT in their daily work, with individual EU Member States reaching rates above 85%. Services sectors are identified as the heaviest users of ICT (for instance, more than 90% of finance employees using ICTS in their daily work), which is to be seen as a natural consequence of the increasing digitalisation of many services – such as eBanking, eCommerce, and online media.
Digitaler Wandel und Informationsgesellschaft - Related Opinions
The Commission’s 2012 Communication on "promoting the cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the European Union" was a milestone in the recognition of the economic, social and cultural importance of these industries by the European institutions. This Communication was accompanied by two staff working documents (SWD) — one relating to the competitiveness of high-end industries , and the other to the competitiveness of the European fashion sector . This was followed by an action plan on the competitiveness of high-end industries and the European fashion sector.
The EESC considers that smart cities can become drivers for development of a new European industrial policy that can influence the development of specific productive sectors, extending the benefits of the digital economy onto a large scale. To achieve this, it is essential to converge towards a development model that is more advanced and effective than those applied to date, which have been characterised by extremely fragmented action.
Islands have unique characteristics which bring specific difficulties, but these characteristics can be turned around to become opportunities if smart and sustainable development policies are implemented to give islands the competitive advantages that derive from sustainable growth and better jobs. The EESC proposes a whole series of smart policy recommendations with a view to boosting smart islands.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields has been increasing in recent years, following the expansion of technologies. In addition to health problems, this can result in limited access to many public or private facilities (libraries, hospitals or even public transport), especially in buildings where devices have been installed for transmitting wireless technology.
These people may sometimes suffer the incomprehension and scepticism of doctors who do not deal with this syndrome professionally and therefore fail to offer proper diagnosis and treatment.
Due to the serious differences in scientific opinion, the independence of bodies involved in establishing maximum exposure levels must be reinforced.
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome is a complex problem which has to be solved through a combination of legislative and other measures. The EESC is in favour of adopting binding safeguarding legislation that reduces or mitigates exposure to electromagnetic fields.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's communication, which calls for the establishment in the European Union of a thriving data-driven economy and thus a digital economy using information technologies.
The EESC stresses that the broad dissemination of information technologies in all areas of society and the economy, culture and education will provide enormous development opportunities, but it is necessary to support IT-related research and development in the technical, economic and social sciences. The EESC regrets the substantial reduction in funding for the financing of digital infrastructure under the Connecting Europe Facility and strongly advocates drawing appropriate conclusions. A new investment plan presented by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in December 2014, aimed at mobilising at least EUR 315 billion in the form of additional public and private investment in key areas such as digital infrastructure, is in this context a welcome policy response.
The EESC welcomes the Commission Communication on "European film in the digital era – Bridging cultural diversity and competitiveness" (COM(2014) 272 final), and emphasises that there needs to be an appropriate balance between the audio-visual sector's value in a business and commercial sense and its value to Europe from a cultural heritage perspective. Intrinsically these two aspects cannot be dealt with separately.
It is high time that one or more innovative business models for the sector be openly discussed with a view to taking up opportunities existing within the digital world. The EESC therefore encourages the sector, the Commission and also national governments to be open and willing to discuss and promote such business models.