Digitalisation has an impact on the labour market. If we want to harness the potential of digitalisation for Europe, we must invest in improving digital skills.
Commissioner Mariya Gabriel
On 25 September the Europa House in Vienna hosted a Citizens' Dialogue with Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. The lively discussion with a roomful of participants, many of them young people, revolved around a broad range of topics such as the latest technologies, like 5G and Artificial Intelligence, how digitalisation can support enlargement countries, the safe use of the internet, the introduction of digital text, European values and the risks of new technologies in the upcoming European elections, just to name a few.
The Dialogue opened with a snap vote among the audience, which revealed that most people considered transparency and security as the most important aspects of Digitalisation. Commissioner Gabriel agreed that both transparency and security are crucial for creating trust among citizens, and she warned that without this trust digitalisation couldn’t move forward. The use of digital technologies is an opportunity for economic growth but it also has risks, which no country can face alone, she said. She drew attention to the added value of the European Union approach in this respect. In particular she mentioned the on-going work with the on-line platforms for more transparency, including the selection of information transmitted to users.
A participant called for more protection on the internet, while another participant gave the example of the Internet watch list in Austria to help avoiding fake shops, cost traps and other abuses. She wanted to know whether there were similar initiatives in Europe and whether it would be possible to connect them. Commissioner Gabriel acknowledged the risks and welcomed the interesting idea, which she said could be worth extending. She referred to the Observatory on the Online Platform Economy, an expert group that will support the Commission in monitoring the evolution of the online platform economy.
Talking about digital economy, participants highlighted the importance of digital skills, and not only for the younger generation, but for those already in the labour market. Commissioner Gabriel confirmed the urgency to improve digital skills, and she underlined that the EU must invest massively in this area. She stressed additional attention needs to be paid to tap on the potential of women, who are underrepresented in the IT sector, as well as to teachers and parents. She invited younger participants to discover the opportunities offered by Digital Opportunity traineeship program. The Commissioner then warned that digitalisation is an opportunity, but it is also entails a risk to increase differences between age groups, or regions, and to create divisions in society, and underlined the importance of anticipating the impact of Digital transformation on the labour market.
Continuing on the subject of latest technologies, participants raised the opportunities provided by Artificial Intelligence and wanted to know whether Europe can become a global leader in this respect. They were also wondering whether there would be European companies that will be able to compete with giants such as Google or Facebook. Commissioner Gabriel referred to the Commission’s proposal for a Digital Europe Program in the next European budget, which would increase the EU's international competitiveness and will reinforce Europe's strategic digital capacities, including in artificial intelligence. She hoped Member States would support this program in order to enable Europe to play a global role and be fit for future digital challenges.
The event in Vienna was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.