Digital transformation must become a success story for industry and workers alike, and ambitious political targets are needed to keep abreast with our global competitors.

On 1 March, the heads of government of Denmark, Finland, Germany and Lithuania sent a joint letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, pushing for cooperation in the digital field, to reduce dependencies and to develop European digital sovereignty. IndustriAll Europe welcomes the initiative and shares some of the observations made in the letter.

Working on capacities and competences in strategic fields will be decisive to maintain the industry in Europe. Ambitious and clearly defined targets are needed to support the industry’s investment decisions and to work on analysing the skills needs of tomorrow.

While we welcome the call to identify critical technologies and strategic sectors, the recommendations made in the letter fall short of several points. European competences and capabilities should not only be expanded “as a last resort”. An ambitious European industrial strategy should develop capacities in Europe, no matter what. The danger of over-dependencies on fragile global supply chains has proven to be harmful throughout the early stages of the lockdowns in 2020. The lasting shortages of semiconductors and the consequential production stops in the automotive industry are a threat to employment in Europe and should be tackled without delay.

Any action plan for digital sovereignty should encompass a strong industrial dimension. It must address the problems of the existing infrastructure, such as the dragging roll-out of 5G. Reliable incentives are needed to make sure that industry has the planning security needed to develop its European footprint. Public support for industry 4.0 applications, such as European cloud solutions and industrial digital platforms, will be needed in order to stay competitive and to make sure that European industrial data can be stored and accessed in Europe, according to European safety standards.
Finally, any action plan should also address the regional dimension of the digital transition. As research conducted on behalf of industriAll Europe shows, the digital gap has widened throughout the pandemic. Concrete action is needed to make sure that no worker and no region is left behind and that the EU will master the twin transitions as a common project.

IndustriAll Europe Deputy General-Secretary, Isabelle Barthès:

“The collapse of the semiconductor supply chain has shown that we need to have a serious discussion about the relocation of critical production and how to best step up support for the European industry. Digital transformation must become a success story for industry and workers alike, and ambitious political targets are needed to keep abreast with our global competitors.”

IndustriAll Europe Deputy General-Secretary, Judith Kirton-Darling:

“We welcome the joint letter and agree that the digital transformation is both an opportunity and a challenge for Europe’s future. It is high time to come up with ambitious commitments for the European industry and for the European workforce as the enablers of the digital transition. Clear commitments with regard to infrastructure, skills and employment will be decisive for a just and digital transition.”

Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley (press and communication), Jan Brauburger (policy adviser)