The EU digital strategy needs a social dimension

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In its opinion A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe (rapporteur: Raymond Hencks, Workers' Group; co-rapporteur: Thomas McDonogh, Employers' Group), adopted during the plenary session on 9 December, the European Economic and Social Committee supports the Commission in its determination to put an end to the fragmentation of European digital policy into 28 strategies and national digital markets. A comprehensive European digital strategy would enable the EU to make the best possible use of the significant opportunities that digital technology has to offer and secure it a leading position in the global digital economy – a privilege that has become the preserve of third countries. The EESC endorses the European Digital Single Market Strategy proposed by the Commission and insists that the EU should act as a creator and not merely a consumer of digital technology. In order to achieve this, the EESC proposes a list of practical measures: closing the skills gap, educating young people early in order for them to develop digital skills, guaranteeing accessibility for all citizens including disabled people and ensuring appropriate public and private investment in teaching, professional training and research.

The EESC's opinion criticises the Commission's proposal for lacking a social dimension, since evolving business services and models will lead to profound changes in the labour market. The EESC believes that there will be many potential risks and challenges, particularly in the field of security, work organisation and social security, and that the social dimension, with all its implications for employment, should form the fourth pillar of the European Digital Single Market Strategy.