The regions in the digital single market: ICT and digital opportunities for European regions

19-04-2018

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. The Digital Agenda for Europe, announced in 2010 in the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy, aimed at promoting economic recovery and improving social inclusion through a more digitally proficient Europe. The Digital Single Market strategy, introduced in 2015, complements the Digital Agenda for Europe. Achieving a digital single market will ensure that Europe maintains its position as a world leader in the digital economy, helping European companies to grow globally. In 2016, the European Commission adopted a new Skills Agenda for Europe which includes measures on the acquisition of digital skills. Although many of the digital single market priorities are primarily dealt with at national level, various initiatives can be explored at the local and regional level. Regions and cities can plan and pursue their own digital strategies in the interests of enhancing economic growth and to promote their citizens' wellbeing. Enhanced use of digital technologies can improve citizens' access to information and culture, promote open government, equality and non-discrimination. However, a number of challenges need to be addressed to fully reap the benefits of digitalisation. Personnel with ICT skills are still lacking in Europe and many European citizens are not adequately trained to carry out ICT-related tasks. In addition, broadband connectivity in some parts of Europe remains slow. Although certain EU regions and local authorities experiment with new technologies, not all of them have managed to provide a high-level range of digital services and ICT related activities. This briefing is an update of an earlier edition, published in October 2015.

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. The Digital Agenda for Europe, announced in 2010 in the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy, aimed at promoting economic recovery and improving social inclusion through a more digitally proficient Europe. The Digital Single Market strategy, introduced in 2015, complements the Digital Agenda for Europe. Achieving a digital single market will ensure that Europe maintains its position as a world leader in the digital economy, helping European companies to grow globally. In 2016, the European Commission adopted a new Skills Agenda for Europe which includes measures on the acquisition of digital skills. Although many of the digital single market priorities are primarily dealt with at national level, various initiatives can be explored at the local and regional level. Regions and cities can plan and pursue their own digital strategies in the interests of enhancing economic growth and to promote their citizens' wellbeing. Enhanced use of digital technologies can improve citizens' access to information and culture, promote open government, equality and non-discrimination. However, a number of challenges need to be addressed to fully reap the benefits of digitalisation. Personnel with ICT skills are still lacking in Europe and many European citizens are not adequately trained to carry out ICT-related tasks. In addition, broadband connectivity in some parts of Europe remains slow. Although certain EU regions and local authorities experiment with new technologies, not all of them have managed to provide a high-level range of digital services and ICT related activities. This briefing is an update of an earlier edition, published in October 2015.