On 21 April, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Confrontations Europe organised the 2016 Digital Day: Innovation in the digital era. Reinventing our economy, an opportunity for civil society to debate the European Union’s (EU) role in ensuring that everyone takes full advantage of new digital technologies, boosting e-skills, the opportunities and challenges for workers in the digital era and new forms of employment.
The risk of a digital society: unequal digital accessibility
ICTs permeate our lives in many aspects: at educational, cultural, social and economic level.
In this so-called digital society, the digital economy represents an opportunity for innovative SMEs and start-ups to create new jobs and, hence, to contribute to the relief of European employment crisis.
But one of the obstacles in this context is the unequal access to ICTs. People from vulnerable groups are most affected, for example people with disabilities, older people, low-income earners, the educationally disadvantaged, and minorities.
As underlined by the European Economic and Social Committee Enhancing digital literacy, e-skills and e-inclusion, unequal ICT access is primarily an extension of financial and social inequalities. Laure Batut, EESC Rapporteur for digital literacy, e-skills and e-inclusion, stressed: "Our leitmotif can be summarised in a very few words: we want access and accessibility for all, security and rights for everyone and then education, education, education”.
Towards an inclusive digital society: enhancing digital literacy
The Europe 2020 strategy wants to use smart, sustainable and inclusive growth to emerge from the crisis. One of the seven flagship initiatives set up by the strategy is the Digital Agenda for Europe that aims to maximise the social and economic potential of ICTs for doing business, working, playing, communicating and expressing ourselves freely. Moreover, it aims to provide Europeans with a better quality of life through, for example, better health care, safer and more efficient transport solutions and easier access to public services and cultural content.
In Enhancing digital literacy, e-skills and e-inclusion, EESC stressed that e-inclusion must follow a global approach to ensure everyone's independence, regardless of their position in society. According to the Riga Declaration , e-inclusion concerns the use of ICT to achieve wider inclusion objectives through the participation of all individuals and local authorities in all aspects of the information society.
EESC believes that the EU and Member States should guarantee digital accessibility through lifelong e-skills training for professional and/or personal reasons, and also for citizenship. The debate with civil society is important to help the European Commission finding a harmonised approach to guarantee equal digital access and participation.
More information are can be found here:
- EESC conference website
- Enhancing digital literacy, e-skills and e-inclusion. Rapporteur: Ms Laure Batut (Workers - GR II / France) Plenary Session: 473 - 13 Jul 2011 - 14 Jul 2011
- Digital single market
- Riga declaration on e-inclusion, 2006
- Charter of Consumer Rights in the Digital World