The digital economy is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy. The European Commission estimates that completing the digital single market could contribute €415 billion per year to Europe’s economy, create 3.8 million jobs and transform public services. In addition, many future jobs will require information and communications technologies (ICT) skills, rendering the process of acquiring digital skills an imperative. The European Commission has presented several initiatives to boost the use of ICT in Europe
Digital technologies have changed the way we live and transformed the world around us at unprecedented speed. They have affected all important aspects of life, both at work and at home, and have influenced almost everything from human relations to the economy, to the extent that access to the internet has now become a basic human right recognised by the United Nations. This profound change presents both opportunities and threats to our society. Citizens need specific skills and access to be able to meaningfully take part in society and work. European businesses need an adequate policy framework and infrastructure to capture the enormous value created by the digital economy. Supporting innovation, removing barriers in the digital single market, and effectively managing and using data are the necessary tools to assist them and boost economic growth in Europe. The European Union takes an active part in shaping the digital economy and society, with cross policy initiatives that range from boosting investment, through reforms of copyright and e privacy, to removal of geo-blocking and development of e-government. This multifaceted approach is necessary to facilitate adaptation to complex new realities.
Having highlighted women’s participation and representation in the media and digital sectors on International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018, Parliament is analysing the current situation and proposing ways to empower women and girls in an own-initiative report scheduled for debate during the April plenary session.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has adopted an opinion on the future of work, in which it calls on Member States to focus on education and training and adapt their education systems to the needs of the labour markets, which are currently undergoing rapid and dramatic changes brought about by the new digital and industrial revolution.
How best to ensure online consumer protection: this was the focus of the 20th European Consumer Day, a joint event of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Bulgarian Economic and Social Council held in Sofia on 20 March. The conference “The digital economy: what deal for consumers” was an opportunity for experts and policy-makers to discuss the new challenges to consumer protection posed by digitalisation from both a European and a national perspective.
A strong cohesion policy in combination with other financing instruments is key to boosting broadband connectivity in Europe, according the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). In an opinion adopted at the plenary session on 22 March, it points out that lack of fast and reliable broadband coverage remains a problem in many rural and sparsely populated areas where there is not enough market-driven development.
This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee, attempts to reveal the links between the different factors (access, skills, socio-economic and cultural), which prevent women from having equal access to digital technology. It then suggests ways of dealing with online and offline inequalities to the effect of closing the digital gender gap and improving women’s and girls’ digital inclusion and future technology-related career paths.