Better Funding - Action 2: Digital Neighbourhood Instrument

  • Cristina (Commu... profile
    Cristina (Commu...
    5 February 2018 - updated 3 months ago
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/futurium/en/file/draft-action-2-digital-neighbourhood-instrumentDraft Action 2: Digital Neighbourhood Instrument

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According to latest data 169 million EU citizens lack even basic digital skills. This accounts for 44% of Europeans between the ages of 16-74. Lack of access to digital services as well as lack of awareness of digital possibilities can have major impact to the digital divide, resulting also in social divide.

Digital transformation should promote the participation of all people in all aspects of the society. The implementation of digital technologies must not lead to the exclusion of individuals or segments of the population. It needs to consider people’s different ranges of possibilities to interact with digital tools. It also should ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities. A mobilising, integrative and inclusive approach to participation is important to allow for balanced opinion-making. With the recently signed Tallinn Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment; Member States commit to work to increase the readiness of European citizens and businesses to interact digitally with the public administrations. Through the ' User-centricity principles for design and delivery of digital public services' in the Annex of the Tallinn Declaration, they also commit that the services 'can be used by all in a non-discriminatory manner, with appropriate assistance available upon need'.

Access to ICT and Broadband connection alone will not be able to sufficiently bridge the existing gap. Additional support for existing and new training and retraining programs for development of digital skills is crucial. Local governments have opportunities to work within the community and reach the citizens who are not involved in any form of formal education and have no access to job related training opportunities.

How do existing EU policies/legislations/instruments contribute?

The opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee (ESSC) on the eGovernment Action Plan included the following:

'…Since many citizens need to familiarise themselves with the new eGovernment tool, the EESC believes that Member States and their regional and local authorities should provide citizens with digital skills training and be asked to provide a digital help service or a local support service to be co-financed by EU funds. This also applies to public sector employees as part of their ongoing professional training…'.

'…It is clear that state-of-the-art networks and digital services must be available to citizens of all ages and to businesses, who must have universal access at an affordable price, irrespective of their geographical or financial situation and that, where appropriate, be provided with assistance and training in order to acquire the skills needed to take advantage of digital applications effectively and responsibly…'.


Public policy must develop strategies to strengthen digital participation and encourage digital skills. Creating assisted inclusive and accessible spaces, in each district, where digital facilitators, operators and trained volunteers, are available for citizens who need information and advice about using a computer, surfing the net, accessing online public services etc. To reach the target groups, it is important that the assistance and training be provided in already established centres of community life such as libraries, community centres, schools, etc. This is also a way to engage more actively citizens in the community's social life and strengthen the relationship between citizens and local public administration and to engage more citizens in the process of co-creation of new services. Examples from existing activities in this field will be studied, such as experiences from Portugal, Germany’s experience in testing capacity building programmes in neighbourhood labs. Accordingly, public spaces should provide access to devices and software and target-group specific services such as helper or mentor structures and networks. Low-threshold and outreach programmes such as gaming projects for young people or senior-friendly tablets for the elderly are already successful and should be further developed.

The Digital Neighbourhood Instrument will be developed in collaboration with actions under the Skills Agenda for Europe: The Upskilling Pathways which aims to help low-qualified people acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition which brings together a wide range of stakeholders – including Member States, companies, education providers – to pledge to take action to tackle the lack of digital skills.


The main output will be pilot projects for access points for people to get support and training for using digital services as well as achieving stronger civic engagement and involving more citizens in the process of co-creation of new services. Access points are established in places where people usually meet.


  • Giving local authorities access to funding for setting up digital neighbourhood access points and skills development programs. This should be taken into account in the preparation of the next Structural Fund programming period. Piloting of the action should be funded from the existing structural fund resources. Funding will be distributed in each Member State, depending on their governance structure. Funding will be addressed to public and private bodies working with their local neighbourhoods. Links should be made to national/regional/local life-long-learning programs.
  • Facilitating the collaboration of cities to learn how to set up the access points in the most appropriate way for the community (link to the action 5).


  • Preparation: Q1-Q2- 2018.
  • Implementation (piloting): Q3/2018 – Q4/2019.
  • Assessment and finalizing of the concept to be used in larger scale: Q2-Q4 2019.

Action leader

Sofia and Oulu




See also: