On 14 December 2016, CEEP and EUROCHAMBRES organised a roundtable event entitled “Creating Inclusive Digital Eco-systems”. This gathered representatives of providers of SGIs and public services, chambers of commerce & industry, IT-specialists from a broad range of sectors and various other stakeholders. In the presence of European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, the participants highlighted the need for digital ecosystems that are inclusive of citizens, public services, big businesses, SMEs and civil society.

European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip emphasised the many aspects of the creation of the Digital Single Market: “Creating a Digital Single Market means many things. It means creating a digital economy and society. Digitising industry, services and government. Promoting a digital lifestyle that goes with our increasingly digital behaviour. This is of direct interest to the private and public sectors, to business and industry, to companies large and small.”  (full VP Ansip speech available here).

In her introductory remarks, Ms Katherina Reiche, CEEP President, pleaded for a digital transformation including providers of services of general interests. “In the digital age, public service providers undertake essential initiatives with regard to infrastructure indispensable to society and essential for the entire economy: without rapid broadband coverage, there can be no digitalisation of business and society. Without reliable and intelligent energy supply, there can be no progress in industrial production and no security of supply. Without protection of water, there is no guarantee of essential services provision and no supply and disposal in the area. The protection of critical infrastructures and cybersecurity are also taken very seriously by public service providers”, she said.

Arnaldo Abruzzini, CEO of EUROCHAMBRES underlined the role that chambers of commerce & industry play in the digitalisation of SMEs. He said: “In this digital era, ’digital’ is integral to companies’ business model. Technological improvements should not only be used to reduce costs, but also to create new products, services and market opportunities. Digitalisation opens the door to new ways of doing business in Europe. That’s why Chambers are informing the SME community about the benefits created by digital solutions and helping them to capitalize on them.”

Prominent speakers presented examples and best practices of digitally inclusive initiatives. Gunilla Lundberg presented the IT-Guide, Dirk Muehlenweg (IBM) showcased the Watson IoT platform for supporting start-ups and SMEs and Matthias Barbian (VDI/VDE North Bavaria) highlighted the importance of having interregional exchanges on digitalisation.

Speakers of the second panel exchanged on the components for an effective policy mix for digitalisation. Lucilla Sioli from the European Commission’s DG CONNECT emphasised that investment in broadband infrastructure is also profitable for companies, consumers and institutions. She also discussed digital skills, as30% of EU citizens still do not have access to a fast fixed internet connection, preventing them from using digital services available for the rest of Europeans.

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