Successful Europe: getting the digital transformation right
“Just about everything” is at stake when it comes to getting Europe’s digital transformation right, members of the first working group of the Connected Europe initiative were told during an online discussion on 27 January.
If Europe’s approach is to see digital as a “force for good, rather than a force for bad, it will absolutely seed success, resilience, a green footprint and a green enhancement in our societies and our communities… how we get that right is the exam question for this initiative”.
The working group was held as part of the ‘Successful Europe’ strand of the Connected Europe initiative, currently 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 citizen 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 findings of the focus group – in which citizens were asked what a ‘successful Europe’ meant to them – were presented during the working group meeting, highlighting citizens’ key concerns around ‘fairness’, ‘convenience’ and ‘quality’ – themes that are now shaping the ongoing debate.
The working group discussion incorporated these concepts and focused primarily on questions around digital innovation and investment, public-private partnerships, as well as digital education, jobs and skills.
“When we think about an equal Europe, we have to think about how we go forward because we are in a digital transition; we’re not going to hold this back. We will be a more digital continent one way or another. We have to shape how that digital continent looks,” said one participant.
This will require new levels of speed, agility and scale, alongside a healthy dose of realism about what is needed to make it work, according to experts in innovation who took part in the discussion.
The ideas generated at the meeting will be ‘test-driven’ through consultations and deliberations with a group of MEPs over the following weeks and presented at a policy debate on 25 February.
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 first 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 successful Europe.
Participants include: Taavi Rõivas, Estonian Prime Minister (2014-2016); Lindsey Nefesh-Clark, Founder & Managing Director of Women’s Worldwide Web (W4) and European Young Leader (EYL40); Dionysia Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Member of the Hellenic Parliament and European Young Leader (EYL40); Antonella Battaglini, Chief Executive Officer of Renewables Grid Initiative; Patrick Child, European Commission Deputy Director-General for Research and Innovation; Joe Griffin, Senior Manager in the Sustainability Team at Vodafone; Ben Hammersley, Founder of Hammersley Futures and European Young Leader (EYL40); John Higgins, Chairman of the Global Digital Foundation; Philip Lowe, Executive Chair of the World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma initiative and former European Commission director-general for competition and energy; Daniel Mes, Member of Cabinet to European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans; Martha Mghendi-Fisher, Founder of the European Women Payments Network (EWPN); Dragos Pislaru, Member of European Parliament; and Ben Wreschner, Head of Campaigns 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 Successful Europe policy debate which will take place on 25 February.
What does a successful Europe look like? Is it one which boosts access to digital education, skills and learning to unlock job opportunities – ultimately leading to greater equality of opportunity and improved social mobility? Is it about building a Europe which is more globally competitive, with the right framework in place to stimulate digital innovation, enable citizens’ trust and speed up investment in the right areas? Or is it about creating a renewed drive towards investments in infrastructure and encouraging public-private partnerships? 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 successful Europe.
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