By the EESC Employers' Group

Following the recent adoption of the EESC opinions on the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) at the June Plenary, the Employers' Group hosted a webinar on the "Challenges of the digital and the new EU economy" on 14 June.

Digitalisation transforms societies and economies. Digital services increasingly weave into Europe’s economy and are shaping Europe's digital future, a trend that has been further accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. The European Commission has been particularly active in launching different initiatives to foster Europe's digital sovereignty, through ensuring a safe, fair, open and accountable online environment for its citizens and unlocking the potential of its Digital Single Market.

However, progress on digitalisation remains uneven across the EU. Many rural and remoter communities are actively seeking new opportunities in digital services to drive economic growth, but face difficulties due to inadequate infrastructure and skills.

The webinar, held under the auspices of the Portuguese Delegation of the EESC Employers' Group, in the framework of the Portuguese presidency, which made this issue one of its top priorities, aimed to contribute to the debate on how to make DMA and DSA "fit for purpose" and thus feed into the legislative process.

Speakers and participants recognised the need to bridge the urban-rural digital divide with the deployment of fibre and 5G in cities, as well as in rural areas, and called for a Digital Rural Act.

With regard to digital infrastructure, EU employers called for skills. The digital transition can only become reality if all Europeans have basic digital literacy and if there is a sufficient skilled digital workforce. The employers stressed that the EU and Member States must take full advantage of the RRF national plans and all existing financing instruments (DEP, InvestEU, Structural and Cohesion Funds) to build a true DIGITAL Union.

Speakers also reiterated that only by avoiding additional fragmentation of the digital Single Market will Europe's companies be able to scale up in the European Union. Harmonised legislation will help European companies not to have to deal with 27 different legal systems and have legal certainty, predictability and a level playing field in a market where competition conditions are fair for everyone, particularly SMEs, which occupy the vast majority of digital platforms.

Along with a fully-fledged Digital Single Market, EU employers firmly supported the key objective of restoring Europe's Digital Sovereignty while remaining open to free trade and supporting the multilateral system. In that regard, they welcomed the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) as part of Europe's answer to create a level playing field for all online services, in line with European values and standards.

However, they stressed that if the EU wants to become a geopolitical actor with real digital clout, it must leverage both its regulatory power and reinforced industrial and technological capabilities to advance the European model of digitalisation and shape the global environment.

To know more about the event and the recommendations, please click here  (dv)