EESC 9th Civil Society Days: digital era needs human skills and proper legal environment

Citizenship, Democracy and Culture in a digitalised Europe was the motto of the 2018 Civil Society Days, held by the Liaison Group at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels on 24 and 25 May.

The tremendous speed of change in the digital era will cause some destruction, but in the long run people will work less and differently, with better subjective well-being, said Andrea Renda, Chair in Digital Innovation at the College of Europe, in his keynote speech. Ray Pinto, policy director at DIGITALEUROPE, warned that there was a shortage of around half a million experts in Europe. Furthermore, while the USA and China were registering huge increases in AI patents, Europe was lagging behind. 83% of external investment in AI was being absorbed by the USA and China.

In six workshops, participants discussed living together in the digital Europe of the future and concluded with the adoption of seven key recommendations:  

  • Build synergies between education and culture on the topics of cultural expression and citizenship in all educational settings and in a lifelong learning perspective;
  • CSOs should be supported with a view to greater outreach to promote and demonstrate equality, inclusivity and participation in civic life, including online;
  • Control and oversight of surveillance should be enhanced and civil society should be involved in the oversight mechanisms of surveillance;
  • At a local level, co-creation/crowdsourcing e-tools should be used more often to increase citizens' engagement;
  • Accessibility should take the same path as security and data protection. It should be a core aspect of ICT products and services;
  • AI can and should augment workers and not replace them;
  • Support and promote an EU Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights. (sma)