Digital Inclusiveness: How to ensure no European is left behind
The second event of a EURACTIV - GIGAEurope Digital Debate Series
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the role and perception of digitalisation in our societies, and accelerated its pace. Consequently, there is increasing focus on the importance of the infrastructure that enables large numbers of people to work, communicate, educate, shop and socialise wherever they are. This focus has also led to more questions about the 'digital divide’.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee says too many young people do not have internet access and the digital divide has widened during the pandemic. He called on governments to invest to provide universal broadband by 2030. "We can't afford not to do it," he wrote in his annual letter to mark the anniversary of the world wide web.
On March 9th, the Commission presented a vision, targets and avenues for a successful digital transformation of Europe by 2030. This is also critical to achieve the transition towards a climate neutral, circular and resilient economy. The EU's ambition is to be digitally sovereign in an open and interconnected world, and to pursue digital policies that empower people and businesses to seize a human centred, sustainable and more prosperous digital future.
A digitally skilled population and highly skilled digital professionals are key priorities of the Commission's ambitions for a digital transformation. The targets set by the Commission include that by 2030, at least 80% of all adults should have basic digital skills, and there should be 20 million employed ICT specialists in the EU – while more women should take up such jobs.
Excellent and secure connectivity for everybody and everywhere in Europe is a prerequisite for a society in which every business and citizen can fully participate. Therefore, by 2030, the Commission wants all European households to be covered by a Gigabit network, with all populated areas covered by 5G. Improved broadband connectivity will result in a more inclusive, resilient and innovative Europe. People will have smoother services to learn digital skills and gain access to more jobs and flexible working conditions.
Join this EURACTIV – GIGAEurope Digital Debate on the role of connectivity to close the digital divides. What investments are needed to roll-out gigabit networks and 5G to reach every European? How to overcome the digital differences that persist between countries and regions? How to reach coherence between Member States’ Strategic Roadmaps to reach the 2030 Digital Decade targets?
Victor Negrescu MEP, Vice-Chair CULT Committee, Rapporteur "Shaping digital education policy ", European Parliament
Fabrizia Benini, Deputy to Director and Head of Unit, Digital Economy, Recovery Plan & Skills, DG CONNECT, European Commission
Georgi Dimitrov, Head of Unit, Digital Education, DG EAC, European Commission
Ibán García del Blanco MEP, Vice-president JURI Committee, S&D Coordinator AIDA Special Committee, Substitute CULT Committee, European Parliament
Mario Mariniello, Senior Fellow, Bruegel
Eke Vermeer, Vice President Public Policy, Liberty Global
Brian Maguire, Journalist, EURACTIV
14:30 – 14:35 Welcome
14:35 - 14:45 Keynote speech
14:45 – 15:00 Panellist statements
15:00 – 15:40 Discussion and Q&A
15:40 – 15:45 Closing statements
Digital skills and excellent infrastructure are essential to ensure no European is left behind in the digital transition. Still, experts at a panel this week said that a faster pace and better cohesion are needed to achieve the Commission's targets for 2030.