The EU has a tremendous opportunity to continue its global leadership in the digitisation of European industry. The Digitising European Industry Stakeholder Forum in March is the perfect occasion to discuss the way forward.

Digital technologies have delivered huge benefits to reinforce democratic institutions which are critical to the success of the EU project. Citizens have never had as many opportunities or channels to voice their views and be heard. Harmonisation of regulations and intergovernmental digitised processes are the new foundation for EU citizens to work and live across borders. It is also the foundation for goods, services, and fordata to flow across borders and to leverage one single EU market. Digitisation of the public sector can help (re-)connecting the citizens to the EU.

The EU has a tremendous opportunity to continue its global leadership in the digitisation of European industry, as it will be discussed during the Digitising European Industry Stakeholder Forum in March. We need to join forces to realise this potential. DIGITALEUROPE’s members are working steadfast towards this goal. They are global companies investing heavily in the EU in R&D or national trade associations promoting the interests of small to medium size businesses in every Member State.  Our membership develops innovative products and services for the entire European population and represents over innovative 25,000 SMEs.

For example, Siemens has developed a self-learning system for gas turbines that uses data from operating conditions to significantly reduce toxic nitrogen oxide emissions without sacrificing its performance. Machine learning is also applied to optimise wind turbines, which adjust the position of the rotors autonomously to the changing wind in order to increase energy production.

One industry with an exciting potential to fully exploit technology is the health sector. Medical companies like MSD invest heavily in Europe to build data-driven “preventive services” that can prevent diseases like Alzheimer. As the General Data Protection comes into force, which will hopefully be followed by the Free Flow of Data Regulation, there will be new opportunities to learn, analyse and share data to tackle some of the most debilitating diseases. For example, diabetic retinopathy is one of the fastest growing causes of blindness globally. It is preventable, but developing countries do not have enough ophthalmologists to provide screening and diagnostics. Machines used to scan pictures of patients’ retinas can learn from images of cases across the EU , and flag those that present signs of the illness.

Our industry is also aware of the need to address the possible social ill effects of digital technologies. The changes in the workforce will require investments in new skills.  The European Commission has released statistics that almost half of Europeans (44%) still lack basic digital skills. We are working with national governments to address this problem and to ensure that no one is digitally excluded.  It is important to prepare our youth to be able to continue to create world-class technology companies like Ericsson, SAP or Siemens. Our dialogue with governments look to our children to have real lifelong skills to problem solve and collaborate in advancing computer sciences, a critical source to tackle climate change, protect and care for our ageing citizens and to reduce poverty.

Our members are seeing that ‘artificial intelligence’ should be grounded in a core set of principles to ensure that technology is built with intelligence, that it is transparent and secure and that sets the highest bar for privacy protections, while also being inclusive and respectful of all. AI systems can help eliminate many of the biases that already exist in human decision-making models today. Companies are working with civil society groups and others to identify the risks and steps to be taken to mitigate them.

Technology will deliver economic growth which will create new jobs and important revenues to reinvest in our societal framework for the public good.  The European Commission has communicated that the digital single market that we are all working towards will ‘If favourable policy and legislative conditions are put in place in time and investments in ICT are encouraged, increase the value of the European data economy to €739 billion by 2020, representing 4% of the overall EU GDP.’ The success of the digital single market will require the free flow of data within the EU and internationally, ensuring public funds step up to deliver on the digital skills action plan, ensuring fast broadband access for everyone and driving important R&D initiatives. 

United through digital - this is the European Union I believe in!