Digital Inclusiveness

How to ensure no European is left behind?

Brussels – 13 October 2021: This press release features highlights of the policy debate on challenges to ensure no European is left behind on the Path to the Digital Decade. The debate took place on 12 October 2021 and was organised by EURACTIV and GIGAEurope, the industry association of private investors in gigabit connectivity.

Inclusiveness is one of the key values associated with Europe’s digital transformation

Commission President von der Leyen calling digital “make or break” for Europe’s recovery and sovereignty in her 2021 State of the Union speech provides new political impetus to the 2030 digital objectives and targets for digital transformation.

The four dials making up the 2030 Digital Compass include Skills, Digital Transformation of Businesses, Secure and Sustainable Digital Infrastructures and Digitalisation of Public Services. Each dial must be underpinned with world-class, reliable gigabit connectivity if Europe is to succeed.

With regards to digital skills, the Commission has set a target that, by 2030, at least 80% of all adults should have basic digital skills, and there should be 20 million employed ICT specialists in the EU – and that this should be equally split between men and women. However, such training relies on access to connectivity in the first instance. We must ensure all Europeans can participate in the Digital Decade – regardless of location.

Victor Negrescu MEP, Vice-Chair CULT Committee, Rapporteur “Shaping digital education policy “, European Parliament, kicked-off the event with a keynote. He underlined the importance of SMEs in an inclusive, digital and green transition and applauded the example of Member States allocating at least 20% of the budget of the Recovery and Resiliency Facility to SMEs.

Ibán García del Blanco MEP, Vice-president JURI Committee, S&D Coordinator AIDA Special Committee, Substitute CULT Committee, European Parliament, focussed on digital literacy and the need to look beyond labour market needs.

Fabrizia Benini, DG CONNECT – Deputy to Director and Head of Unit, Digital Economy, Recovery Plan & Skills, European Commission raised her concern about 66% of the EU population possessing basic digital skills, though 84% use the internet. She elaborated on how the von der Leyen Commission is addressing leadership attention to digital education and skills.

Georgi Dimitrov, DG Education and Culture – Head of Unit, Digital Education European Commission highlighted the importance of an integrated approach and the challenge of having the education ministers talk to the finance, telecom and social ministers and agreeing on a common vision.

Mario Mariniello, Senior Fellow, Bruegel stated that without the right digital infrastructure the European economy is doomed and that a more symmetric distribution of value coming from technology has the potential to stimulate investment in infrastructure because it increases demand for digital services.

Eke Vermeer, Vice President Public Policy, Liberty Global addressed the need for policy reforms to meet the 2030 gigabit connectivity objectives to accelerate ongoing private investment and roll out of gigabit networks and 5G.

Highlights, quotes and a recording of the event are available at

Read the op-ed by Irina Varlan, Managing Director GIGAEurope on Digital Inclusiveness



Rewatch the EURACTIV-GIGAEurope Digital Debate


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