80 million Europeans lack skills suitable for the digital environment – this is an alarming conclusion on the state of digital literacy in the European Union. In the next programming period, the European Commission has foreseen €9 billion for digital single market programmes. This was said by EU Commissioner for Digital Society and Economy Maria Gabriel at the “Technology and Digital Single Market: Opportunities and Challenges” Conference.

The value of the IT sector for Europe’s economy has increased nearly 4 times over the last decade, according to Gabriel’s words. 25% of the world’s robots have been produced in the EU and 20% of world R&D is happening in Europe.

The highest growth with added value in the sector among EU Member States is noted in Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Poland.

Over the past years, the Community has noted some achievements on the road to its goal of establishing a Digital Single Market for the old continent.

One of them is the abolition of roaming tariffs, resulting in more than five times increase in the consumption of mobile services abroad and 2.5 times for calls. The Commissioner also drew attention to personal data – an area where the EU is working to impose ever stricter rules. According to some business representatives, this hampers innovation, but Maria Gabriel is firm that it comes to high standards at the heart of which is the consumer.

As far as the challenges are concerned, one of them is the lack of financial benefits from the research in Europe. The continent is a leader in R&D – 20% of it is happening in European territory. “At the same time, however, we are not able to turn this into leadership in market innovation and entrepreneurship,” Gabriel said.

In this regard, she drew attention to the new Digital Agenda, whose overall draft budget for the period 2021-2027 amounted to EUR 9.2 billion. €700 millions of it, has been allocated to the development of high-digital skills and 2 billion for cybersecurity and protection of the European Union’s personal data and critical infrastructure.

Within the framework of digitisation and digital literacy initiatives, the EU has adopted the .eu domain, which already has 4 million registrations, as well as a regulation setting up a single digital portal. It is positioned as an additional tool at the disposal of individuals and businesses exercising their freedom of movement and establishment in another Member State. Everyone will have online access to information and procedures on an equal footing.

The Digital Single Market covers digital marketing, e-commerce and telecoms with the idea that every European citizen, enterprise and government will have access to them.