Digitalisation must be inclusive

The Digital Europe programme put together by the Commission takes a step in the right direction by recognising the key role played by digital skills, but could be more closely tied to social realities. In the opinion drawn up by Norbert Kluge and Ulrich Samm and adopted at the October plenary session, the EESC backs the Commission proposal and points out that digitalisation in Europe must be inclusive, with the "digital dividend" being distributed equally through appropriate policy measures.

"As digitalisation affects all people and all areas of life, it is of the utmost importance that everyone in the EU can benefit from it," said Mr Kluge. "Digitalisation in Europe has to be made inclusive," he continued. "People must not be excluded from digital progress on account of factors like gender, social status, education level, skills, digital capabilities, origin, age or disability."

Digital knowledge and skills are essential and have been recognised as a key element in the programme. It is very important to help businesses, workers and consumers to acquire and use both basic and advanced digital technologies. Training could be provided through digital innovation hubs, set up on the ground in the regions. "We welcome a European label of excellence for digital innovation hubs to favour interconnections and ensure that high-level and advanced digital skills, but also basic capacities, are provided," underlined Mr Samm.

In June 2018 the European Commission presented the Digital Europe programme for the period 2021‑2027, with a view to establishing a digital single market, making Europe a leading player in digitalisation and increasing its economic strength and competitiveness on the world stage. (mp)