The barriers we tore down between European countries 20 years ago are coming back. We need to make sure that we do not destroy what we have achieved; on the contrary, we need to bring down all barriers, including the digital ones, within the EU
On 28 April Bucharest hosted a Citizens' Dialogue with Vice-President Ansip. The event opened the Eurosfat conference 2017. Vice-President Ansip was joined on stage by Leonard Orban, adviser on European Affairs with the Romanian Presidential Administration, and the lively discussion was moderated by Bogdan Deleanu, President of Europuls.
The discussion mainly revolved around the challenges and possibilities relating to digital technologies, but touched upon broader issues such as the completion of the digital single market and the future of Europe, including Romania's future accession to the Eurozone
Vice-President Andrus Ansip kicked off the Dialogue by reminding participants that we can see the barriers we tore down between European countries 20 years ago coming back. We need to make sure that we do not destroy what we have achieved; on the contrary, we need to bring down all barriers, including the digital ones, within the EU. A fully functional Digital Single Market could contribute €415 billion per year to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, he said.
Mr Leonard Orban warned that the entire single market and the free circulation of goods and services are also questioned by some. At the same time he expressed Romania's commitment to pursuing further and deeper integration in the EU, and he pledged that Romania would do everything to reach this objective.
In the ensuing discussion participants voiced their concerns regarding the many young and talented people leaving the EU and asked what the EU institutions and the Member States are doing to prevent this. Other participants also pointed out the importance of improving the level of digital literacy for everyone through formal and non-formal education, and the direct link between digital skills and the demands of the labour market.
Vice-President Ansip explained that many bright young people are looking for opportunities outside the EU, as scaling up small businesses is very complicated due to the fragmentation of markets and the many different national rules. In response to the question on digital skills Vice-President Ansip emphasised that life-long learning has to become a reality and not just a slogan. Teaching IT skills at university is not enough, it has to be started at kindergarten level. People who do not possess digital skills will lose their jobs in the future labour markets, therefore it is crucial to prepare people through education. At the same time Vice-President Ansip also underlined that progress has always created more jobs than it destroys.