Resilient Europe: what policies will build more shock-proof societies?
How can Europe design its recovery plans, and the digitalisation that runs through them, to build resilience into its systems and communities and become more shock-proof? While the political commitment to invest in a resilient future has been clearly stated, a Friends of Europe working group met online on 11 May to begin discussing what concrete policy proposals are needed to really make that happen.
Among the important themes to emerge from the discussion was the idea of integrating the wellbeing and mental health of citizens into all aspects of policy plans, from technology to education, governments and communities.
In a focus group held prior to the event, trust was a key issue for citizens, whose digital resilience relies heavily on being able to reliably determine what information is trustworthy.
Increasing trust between citizens and institutions was also among the areas considered at the meeting, as well as infrastructure and connectivity, education and training, issues around privacy and data, and innovating through products and services.
The working group was held as part of the ‘Resilient Europe’ strand of the Connected Europe initiative being conducted by Friends of Europe, in partnership with Vodafone, to foster a successful, green and resilient digital transformation in Europe. The solutions-focused project involves a series of focus groups, working groups and policy debates, with the final recommendations due to be launched in a final report at our annual State of Europe High-Level Roundtable.
The ideas generated by the group will be ‘test-driven’ over the coming weeks and followed up with a policy debate on 22 June.
The power of connectivity is beyond imagination. If developed properly and fairly, it can boost and transform lives, create a sense of community, and enable Europe to live up to its values. Connectivity opens up a world of access to education, skills and training, enabling self-agency in tackling climate change & the housing crisis as well as improving mobility and agriculture – and so much more.
That is the power we are tapping into through Connected Europe, an initiative launched in partnership with Vodafone to foster a successful, green and resilient digital transformation in Europe.
Solutions cannot be not determined by a single institution or approach. It isn’t about access to jobs vs. access to health, or a greener Europe vs. a strong economy. It’s about wiring things around people and communities to improve livelihoods. It’s about private, public and civil society working in a different way, and together, locked in by social contract that enables a just transition to a world that is fast emerging.
This Working Group meeting is the third in a series and will bring together a select group of policy- and decision-makers to hone in on what is necessary to create a more resilient Europe.
Participants include: Taavi Rõivas, former Estonian Prime Minister (2014-2016), Connected Europe Senior Fellow and Chairman of Auve Tech; Lindsey Nefesh-Clark, Founder & CEO of W4.org, Connected Europe Senior Fellow and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40); Ben Hammersley, Founder of Hammersley Futures and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40); Sorin Ducaru, Director of the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC) and former Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges at NATO; Tiia Lohela, Special Advisor at the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats; Philip Lowe, Executive Chair of the World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma initiative and former European Commission director-general for competition and energy; Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck, Founder of Lie Detectors; Dragos Pislaru, Member of European Parliament; and Ben Wreschner, Chief Economist at Vodafone, among others.
Participation in the Working Group is by invitation only. To learn about the outcomes of the meeting, please register for the Resilient Europe policy debate which will take place on 22 June.
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As the European Commission evaluates members states’ plans for accessing the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), those states’ commitments to digitalisation will be key. In the words of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: “We want to invest in a digital Europe, innovative and competitive in global markets. And we want a resilient Europe, which is better prepared to face future crises.”
From economic and health crises to cyber-hacking and supply chain disruptions, a more resilient Europe should be a place where people, infrastructure and institutions are able to cope, adapt and bounce back from shocks. To enhance its resilience, Europe will need to focus on five key areas: improving infrastructure and connectivity; ensuring that education and training are fit for the digital age; building trust between governments and businesses as the ‘e-state’ increasingly comes into being; confronting issues around privacy and data; and innovating through products and services.
Prioritised through the EU’s Digital Decade proposals, and measurable through the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), the ambition to address these issues is clearly there. The challenge will be to identify concrete policy proposals for how to achieve these goals. In doing so, all those with a stake in the game will have to work together to ensure that transparency, trust and a culture of continuous innovation become the hallmark of European resilience.
Following discussions around building a more successful and greener Europe, this expert working group will bring together a select group of policy- and decision-makers to hone in on what is necessary to create a more resilient Europe.
- What developments in sectors such as healthcare, education and the gig economy over the last year might serve as examples for innovating in the face of challenges?
- How are industries using digitalisation to adopt new strategies to become more resilient to disruptions and weaknesses exposed by the pandemic?
- How should governments and businesses work together to increase connectivity in both cities and rural areas?
- What must policymakers do to increase trust between citizens and institutions?
- How can resilience skills such as digital literacy be taught and reinforced in the workplace and education systems?
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