Europe’s Digital Decade – Technology at the service of modern Europe

In the article you will learn what the digital decade of Europe is within the European Commission’s digital strategy and what are the basic assumptions and goals of digitization to be implemented in the European Union in the years 2021-2030.

Europe’s Digital Decade (1) is a challenge for 2021-2030, the effect of which is to lay the foundations of a modern and digitized Europe in order to support the recently slowing down process of integration. The digital strategy, however, is primarily an investment in human potential which is a real vehicle for development and transformation.

The digital strategy Shaping Europe’s digital future’ , presented in February 2020, is a continuation of the Digital Single Market strategy (from 2015) and a plan for the Union to achieve a dominant position in the global digital arena. In practice, the idea is to strengthen the importance of Europe as a leader in digital transformation and thus increase its competitiveness on the economic and social level through increased decentralization of activities and optimization of intra-EU processes. The logic here is simple and right: Since – as the current situation shows – digitization is to be an even greater stimulus of economic development, also positively influencing the labor market, it can also be a factor creating competitive advantages on a global scale faster. This, in turn, may contribute to the further strengthening of ties between the Member States of the Union.

Pillars of the digital strategy

The new strategic concept is to be based on the concept of solidarity in the sense that every European citizen can and should contribute to ensuring that the benefits of the digital transformation reach as many Europeans as possible. We can say that this is an example of maximum decentralization, where development is no longer just a matter for the governments of the Member States, but for each individual citizen and his personal competences.

This assumption is naturally correct, because technological progress, including digital progress, always starts at the individual level. It is the key competences of individuals that determine the competitiveness of specific enterprises and specific Member States, indirectly influencing the position of the European Union as a whole. The relationship between personal development and the development of Europe is undoubtedly the key to building unique competitive advantages .

The aim of the digital strategy is undoubtedly the desire to activate the widest possible group of people, organizations and institutions (2) to work for the digital future of Europe. It is designed to be a bottom-up process with the European Commission creating the right framework and conditions ‘for Europe to develop and implement its own key capabilities’ (3).

On the practical side, these will be actions to improve the processes and structures already existing within the borders of the European Union in such a way as to additionally support:

  1. development of technology serving the citizens of Europe primarily in terms of facilitating everyday life,
  2. liberalizing the economy and strengthening the free market towards increased competitiveness of European enterprises,
  3. activation of the digital society that interacts safely in the broadly understood virtual world.

The above points are naturally the pillars of the digital strategy in the meaning of strategic objectives for Europe to become ‘a strong, independent and targeted digital partner’ (4) and thus a partner ‘fit for the digital age’ (5).

Europe’s Digital Decade

The implementation of a digital strategy that gives the European Union digital independence and global domination is a multi-stage process that must be based on clearly defined priorities and a relatively precise action plan. To this end, on March 9, 2021, the European Commission presented a roadmap of goals that can still be achieved in this decade.

This so-called ‘Digital Compass for Europe’ implies concrete action in four key areas:

  1. Actions to educate a society with appropriate digital competences
  2. Activities for the development of appropriate digital infrastructure
  3. Activities for the digitization of enterprises
  4. Actions for the digitization of the public service sector

Each of the goals assumes the achievement of more or less specific numerical goals, which are to transform the coming years 2021-2030 into the digital decade of Europe and, at the same time, the foundation of the digital transformation of the Union .

Digital society

The carrier of digital transformation is to be Europeans and their personal competences, including, in particular, the ability to use digital technologies and navigate in the virtual world. The goal is for at least 80 percent of all adult EU citizens to have basic digital competences by 2030. Additionally, investments are planned in the development of qualified professionals in the field of digital solutions, who are to be the real foundation of digitization. The European Commission counts on 20 million people employed in the information and communication technologies (ICT) industry, with the goal also to increase the activation of women in this area.

Digital infrastructure

Digital infrastructure is the real basis for accessing the digital world. This access is to be secure, permanent and durable, which requires the development of the fifth generation (5G) cellular network in all populated areas and providing all households with high-speed connections at the gigabyte level. In addition, the goal is to develop the edge infrastructure in a neutral and environmentally safe manner (10,000 nodes are to be implemented, i.e. the so-called edge nodes). This requires an increased commitment from European companies, which would also increase their share of the global production of modern semiconductors. The European Commission is counting on an increase of up to 20 percent here.

Digital Enterprises

Digital transformation is not possible without private business, which as part of constant optimization strives to improve the quality of its offer and thus competitiveness, while being guided by both the efficiency and profitability criteria. It is – as the European Commission rightly assumes – a natural ally in the digitization of Europe, which will be the burden of the infrastructural change. By 2030, over 90 percent of SMEs are expected to be at least at the basic level of digitization. In practice, it is about the extensive use of cloud computing services (cloud services), big data and the implementation of solutions based on artificial intelligence.

Digital Public Services

A final key area of ​​action concerns the digitization of the public service sector so that all key services for citizens are online by 2030. This, of course, implies a strong activation of the Europeans themselves, who should already use eID (electronic identification) in 80%, i.e. identification with the use of electronic tools. The consequence of this would be progress in the area of ​​the availability of sensitive data, in particular medical records.

The Digital Compass for Europe’ will serve as the basis for the political agenda yet to be agreed with the European Parliament and the European Council. Both the European Union authorities and the Member States are to participate in the process of managing and monitoring the transformation. Broad projects involving many countries are to be implemented relatively quickly in order to be able to take full advantage of the synergy effects. Such projects are possible only with a joint investment commitment, taking into account the budget possibilities of the Union, Member States and cooperating enterprises.

Summary

The vision of a digitized (and digitally strong) Europe based on modern technologies seems to be a necessity in a situation of the visibly slowing down of the integration process and, above all, decreasing motivation on the part of some governments of the Member States and Europeans themselves. Digital transformation activating all social forces of the Union, which is precisely the plan for Europe’s Digital Decade, and bringing benefits to all citizens , enterprises and, consequently, states, gives the opportunity to accelerate again and achieve a level of competitiveness that has not yet been achieved on a global scale.

The idea that the appropriate use of modern digital solutions can give an advantage at every level of the organizational structure, i.e. at the level of cities, communes, regions, countries, the euro area and the entire Union, is correct. The key here is to understand that the drivers of change must be the Europeans themselves and their personal competences, which can be an important element of bottom-up integration. Ultimately, it is a common goal that counts.

Everything points to the fact that the European Commission sees the benefits of investing in human potential, proposing also to develop a framework for digitization, including, in particular, access to high-quality connectivity, opportunities to acquire digital competences, access to public services and online services in a fair manner. all. Solidarity of creation and benefits is undoubtedly a key feature of the planned digital transformation.


1) European Commission – Press release, ‘Europe’s Digital Decade: Commission sets the course towards a digitally empowered Europe by 2030’, Brussels, 9 March 2021: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_983

(2) The document refers to regions, municipalities, academia, civil society, financial institutions, enterprises and social enterprises. See: Communication from the Commission, ‘Shaping Europe’s digital future’, COM (2020) 67 final, Brussels, 19 February 2020, page 5: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52020DC0067

(3) Communication from the Commission, ‘Shaping Europe’s digital future’, COM (2020) 67 final, Brussels, 19 February 2020, p. 2.

(4) Communication from the Commission, ‘Shaping Europe’s digital future’, COM (2020) 67 final, Brussels, 19 February 2020, p. 3.

(5) Communication from the Commission, ‘Shaping Europe’s digital future’, COM (2020) 67 final, Brussels, 19 February 2020, p. 3.

 

dr Przemysław Jóskowiak
dr Przemysław Jóskowiak
Founder of EECOM (European Institute for E-commerce), owner of Stratego24, a practitioner with many years of experience, author of know-how courses "E-business in practice", "E-marketing in practice", "Business & Management", "E-commerce in practice", "Promotional campaign on the web", "Social media in e-commerce", "WordPress in e-commerce" and know-how manuals for companies and businesses on building a professional presence on the web, lecturer at the University of Warsaw and UO UW, expert at the Incubator of the University of Warsaw
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