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 to discuss how to reduce the gap when it comes to digital divides that persist between different countries and regions. What investments are needed to upgrade existing networks and roll-out gigabit networks to reach every European? And should Commission targets be binding for Member States?
Fabrizia Benini, Deputy to Director Digital Economy, Recovery Plan & Skills, DG CONNECT, European Commission
Mario Mariniello, Senior Fellow, Bruegel
More to be announced soon.
Brian Maguire, Journalist, EURACTIV
14:30 – 14:35 Welcome
14:35 – 14:50 Panellist statements
14:50 – 15:40 Discussion and Q&A
15:40 – 15:45 Closing statements