EPP-CoR to hold dialogue with the participation of Commissioner Gabriel during European Week of Cities and Regions
Access to affordable and high-quality broadband networks and services, including in remote and rural areas, is a precondition for the digital transformation of the EU. Capitalising in the digital sector in our villages, cities and regions means making a long term investment in the future for the benefit of the new generation, boosting competitiveness and innovation of our enterprises, promoting social cohesion and resilience, and opening up new horizons in terms of education and training. In one word, more opportunities for all.
The pandemic has shown the urgency for all layers of the European society, including Public Administrations at different levels of governance, to accelerate their digitalisation process and increase their presence online in order to offer efficient public services, respond to greater citizens’ needs and rapidly adapt to the new context.
The pandemic generated a profound impact also on education in local and regional communities, forcing them into continued stress-tests in terms of crisis management, the use of technology in education, adapting human resources to unprecedented circumstances, with the need to invent new models of cooperation and to provide inclusive education which meets high standards.
At the same time, the almost 24.5 million European Small and Medium Enterprises, employing two out of three workers in the EU, are still lagging behind in terms of digital transition. The EU decision making leaders are faced with the test to design tailored-made programmes and instruments able to support the competitiveness of the European business sector, for both advanced enterprises and more traditional companies.
All this opens up opportunities but still presents challenges, such as lack of adequate financial resources, bureaucratic burdens and red tape, lack of awareness, targeted skills and ambitious managerial vision, including in the public sector, and often insufficient incentives, especially for investments in the digital technologies sector, including for the access to the digital education.
In order to meet such challenges, local and regional authorities are committed to make their part to support the switch to modern, functional, digital and green infrastructure in their communities, promote information campaigns as well as leverage partnerships between the public, private, educational and non-profit sectors to implement programmes focusing on advanced digital skills and cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and high performance computing.
In this context, the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions will be holding an online event as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities on Tuesday, 12 October 2021 between 11.30 a.m. and 1 p.m. The aim is to discuss the Digital Transition and the role digitalisation can play to ensure economic recovery through resilient cities and regions.
The event will include two sessions. The first one ‘Cities and regions in the digital age’ will focus on education and innovation as a means to shape the future of European communities. This session will be addressed by myself, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth as well as Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and former Prime Minister of Romania. The second session ‘Tackling the digital divide for Europe’s recovery’ will focus on the role of local and regional authorities to achieve a competitive and resilient Europe will include Eva Maydell, MEP, Markku Markkula, Chair of the Espoo City Board and President of the Helsinki Region and Hanna Zdanowska, Mayor of the City of Łódź. A Q&A session will follow after each session. The event will be moderated by Deirdre Forde, Councillor Cork City Council.
Olgierd Geblewicz, President EPP-CoR Group and President of West Pomerania Region