With ambitious targets and strategic investments in the digital industry, we will see the ICT sector in Europe flourish, underpinning the performance of downstream industries and delivering quality jobs.
The ICT sector in Europe is cross-cutting and omnipresent. Be it mobile phones or complex industry 4.0 networks, the sector provides fundamental technology for industries and private users alike, and employment for 7.8 million European workers. The relevance of the sector also makes its strategic importance and essential position in the industrial value chain obvious.
The sector is among the beneficiaries of the EU Recovery Plan. 20% of the budget is earmarked for investments in digitalisation and Member States are asked to step up their efforts to bridge the digital divide. It is clear that investments in digitalisation are investments in the industry and in the jobs of tomorrow.
IndustriAll Europe welcomes this focus. Effectively, huge investments in the entire ecosystem are needed to make sure that a viable ICT sector in Europe can contribute to the green and digital transition. Further investments must be made to strengthen the resilience of supply chains and to extend production capacities in Europe, such as the production of semiconductors.
In our dedicated action plan, we have therefore identified several key priorities for the sector, that should be addressed in the years to come.
- Investments in connectivity are needed, as area-wide 5G coverage and broadband internet connections are fundamental to facilitate remote working and a digitised industry in all regions and Member States. At the same time, investments in new ICT sectors, such as Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing and Advanced Manufacturing are paramount to keep up-to-speed with international competition
- Investments in the resilience of supply chains are needed, as they must become diversified and extended. A full-scale ICT supply chain in Europe will be the major requirement to ensure that the technology needed for industry 4.0 applications is available, and that the generated wealth is shared in Europe.
- Invest in the data economy and promote the use of open standards and their availability under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory conditions. The rights to access and to process data should be clearly defined, and all stakeholders should be granted the right to exploit data according to their needs.
- Strengthen the role of social dialogue and anticipate change in a socially responsible manner, by strengthening national and European levels of information and consultation rights across the supply chain. Workers should receive their fair share of the wealth generated from digitalisation and their professional know-how should be preserved, while exploiting Big Data Analytics as a tool to assist workers.
Isabelle Barthès, industriAll Europe’s Deputy General Secretary:
“The EU Recovery Plan rightly prioritises the twin transition to a digital and green economy. We are facing an historic opportunity. With ambitious targets and strategic investments in the digital industry, we will see the ICT sector in Europe flourish, underpinning the performance of downstream industries and delivering quality jobs.
“The path to a full-scale ICT sector in Europe - from semiconductor manufacturers to producers of terminal devices - should be clearly outlined, and a discussion on European values on Artificial Intelligence, data security and access to data should be led to make sure that Europe is at the forefront of international standard-setting.”