(Source: European Committee of the Regions)
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Commission jointly held the third meeting of the Broadband Platform on 27 October. Members learnt about the latest policy initiatives on digital transformation, such as the Digital Policy Programme, the Digital Principles, the European Green Deal and digitalization, the National Recovery and Resilience Plans funding connectivity, the security dimension of 5G and the EDIH network. CoR Members directly informed Commission’s experts about the digital challenges they experience at local and regional level.
Michael Murphy (IE/EPP), Chair of the Platform and of the CoR’s ECON Commission, as well as Mayor of Clonmel Borough District, said: “It is not only companies that need to improve their digital infrastructure or hire skilled workers: e-government is the key word here. The public sector is in a good position to foster awareness towards the potential of digital technologies and solutions. A digital public sector can create a digitalising pull effect for society as a whole.”
Rafał Trzaskowski (PL/EPP), Mayor of Warsaw and CoR rapporteur on the European Climate Pact, noted: “We need to invest in the Green Deal but also in digitalisation. Both of these priorities reinforce one another. By using digital tools, we can increase resource efficiency, facilitate the circular economy, fight for better allocation of resources, and reduce emissions, pollution and biodiversity loss. The Green Deal and digitalisation are the flipsides of the same coin.”
The first part of the meeting focused on how local and regional authorities could be actively involved in achieving the Digital Compass targets concerning digital skills, digital transformation of businesses, secure and sustainable digital infrastructures and digitalisation of public services. A presentation on the Digital Principles emphasized that the Digital Compass goals are anchored in European values and should be in line with the objectives of the Green Deal.
The second part focused on connectivity and digital infrastructure. European Commission representatives provided a presentation on current targets, outlined the digital investment allocation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility and informed about the Connecting Europe Facility. They further showcased the timeline of 5G cybersecurity measures and presented the EU Toolbox for 5G security. CoR Members inquired about any actions taken to avoid a ‘two-tiered Europe’ and welcomed the planned measures for improved cybersecurity. Some highlighted how their own countries suffer from the ongoing nuisance of scam calls.
The meeting ended with a presentation of the European network of co-funded Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs). The European Commission will soon launch a call for the creation of such hubs, which will work towards the digital transformation of industry and of public services in coordination with territorial stakeholders such as local and regional authorities, SME associations and others.
Meeting several times per year to discuss various topics related to digital transformation and broadband deployment, the Broadband Platform seeks to establish an effective two-way flow of communication between the European Commission DG CONNECT and the European Committee of the Regions. It provides the European Commission with a forum to inform the CoR members about key EU initiatives concerning digital transformation and connectivity. It offers CoR members the possibility to directly inform Commission policy-makers about the situation and challenges they experience at the local and regional level with regards to broadband deployment.
Key issues concern: policy and governance, technology choices, financial sources, regulatory framework conditions as well as measuring and monitoring digitalisation progress.