On 14 December 2016, CEEP and EUROCHAMBRES organised a roundtable event entitled “Creating Inclusive Digital Eco-systems”. The event 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, underlined the disruptive nature of digitalisation in all sectors of the economy. Supported by concrete examples, she illustrated the change brought by platforms and new business models based on data management. In this context, she highlighted that public services’ providers themselves are at the forefront of digitalisation as one of the key pillars of a digitalised economy and society. They provide trust and stability in times of change when fulfilling their role as system manager, such as in the energy sector where the opportunities and challenges caused by both digitalisation and the energy transition meet. To allow public services to be able to provide this stable fundament for the whole economy and society, policies must place them in a level-playing-field. In addition to that, Ms Katherina Reiche underlined that it is necessary to address the skills dimension of digitalisation and therefore welcomed the Commission’s initiative for a Coalition for Jobs.

Prominent speakers presented examples and best practices of digitally inclusive initiatives. Amongst others, Gunilla Lundberg presented the IT-Guide, a project supported by the Swedish municipality of Orebrö which builds bridges by training young newly-arrived immigrants (in Sweden for 1-3 years) to help digitally-excluded citizens, especially the seniors. This project is one of the many examples brought forward by the CEEP Digitalisation Working Group, and which can be found in the booklet “Public Services as Driver of Digital Transformation: Compendium of practices”.

Speakers of the second panel exchanged on the components for an effective policy mix for digitalisation, with a specific focus on the issues of access to high-speed broadband and the development of digital skills.

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