Europe’s future is digital: EU countries to commit in Rome to go deeper and further on digital

As part of the celebrations of the 60 years of the Treaties of Rome, the Commission will bring Ministers together tomorrow to progress on high-performance computing, connected mobility and industry digitisation. Initiatives to support digital skills will also be discussed.

The Digital Day in Rome aims at boosting cooperation between EU Member States to better prepare our society and industry to reap the full benefits of the digital transformation. Ministers will sign declarations to put the EU at the forefront of global high-performance computing and to carry out cross-border trials in connected driving. They will also launch a European platform combining national initiatives to help European industry, digitise, adapt and innovate. The Commission will also present a test project to support digital internships. Participants, including representatives of the civil society, will explore the impact of the digital transformation of society and the economy on jobs and skills.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “For over 60 years, European countries have worked together to capture the economic benefits of larger, better integrated markets, and made sure those benefits flowed to people. The same has to apply to the digital environment. Centuries ago, all roads were said to lead to Rome, but tomorrow’s digital highways will link every person, every object and every place. The Digital Day is about making sure that we make digital a truly positive power – in policies and laws, in our economy, society and in the lives of all Europeans.

Highlights of the Digital Day include:

          Ministerial declaration to establish Europe as a global player in high-performance computing (HPC): Super computers involve thousands of processors working in parallel to analyse great quantity of pieces of data in real time. They allow to design and simulate the effects of new medecine, provide faster diagnosis and better treatments, control epidemics and support decision-making in electricity, water distribution, urban planning and other areas. Several Ministers will commit building the next generation of computing and data infrastructures – a European project of the dimension of Airbus in the 1990’s and Galileo in the 2000’s. This infrastructure will also support the European Science Cloud which will offer Europe’s 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals a virtual environment to store, share and re-use their data across disciplines and borders. More about the declaration on high-performance computing will be available here at around 11.00 CET tomorrow. See also this blog post by Vice-President Ansip.

          Cooperation on connected and automated mobility: A large number of European countries will sign a letter of intent to establish, together with the Commission, a legal framework for cross-border trials in connected driving, based on harmonised rules on data access, liability and connectivity. This drives forward EU plans announced in the Commission’s strategy to build a European Data Economy of January 2017 and in the EU strategy on cooperative, connected and automated mobility of November 2016. The letter of intent is the first initative led by Member States for cross-border cooperation in connected and automated mobility. The Commission will support these efforts with concrete steps that will facilitate cross-border corridors. More information about the letter of intent on connected and automated mobility will be available here at around 12.30.

          European platform on digitising industry to connect national initiatives: One year ago, the Commission presented a strategy to ensure that every business in Europe, from factories to startups, can fully benefit from digital innovation to upgrade its products, improve its processes and adapt its business models to the digital change. Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger and Italian Minister for Economic Development Carlo Calenda will launch a European platform of 12 existing and 9 future national initiatives on digitising industry, together with participating Ministers, State Secretaries and industry leaders. This aims to generate joint investments, cooperation across borders and industry sectors and learning from each other as no single Member State can do it alone. It will also help pool resources and co-investments to ensure European companies are at the cutting edge of clean technologies. Over the next five years, Member States, the EU and industry are planning combined investments of more than €50 billion in support of digitising European industry. More information about the platforms will be available here at around 16.00 tomorrow.

          Digital opportunities initiative: Despite high levels of youth unemployment, there are two million job vacancies in Europe. In many countries there is a mismatch between the skills of the job seeker and the needs of the labour market. Today, most jobs require digital skills – 40% of businesses, mostly small and medium-sized entreprises, need information and communication technology (ICT) specialists and find it difficult to recruit them. More than half of the ICT specialists work outside this sector.. The social partners, companies, education institutions and civil society need to take initiative and join forces. In order to test concrete options, the Commission plans to launch a pilot project to provide cross-border work experiences based on existing EU programmes and networks such as the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition for up to 6,000 graduate students in 2018-2020. The aim is to test the interest of students and companies towards the paid 5-6 months internships that will be available for students of all disciplines. Internships could take place in more specialised fields like cybersecurity, big data, quantum technology or artificial intelligence, as well as in more general areas like web design, digital marketing, and software development. More information on this pilot project will be available here at around 17.00 tomorrow. See also this blog post by Vice-President Ansip on digitisation and jobs.

          Updated framework for digital public services: Furthermore, the Commission will present an updated European Interoperability Framework. This is the last initiative to be announced as part of the Digital Single Market strategy launched in May 2015. The new framework will ensure that all Member States’ administrations can follow agreed similar approach when they make their public services available online and deal with security and data protection rules, thereby reducing development risk and cost. By making the digital services interoperable, Member States make sure that their services are accessible, not only within their national borders, but also across countries and policy areas and make it easier for people and businesses to communicate with their administration and those of other Member States. A press release will be available here at noon tomorrow.


The Digital Day is part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome and puts Europe’s digital future in the spotlight. Digital technologies, products and services are today improving peoples’ lives, reinventing our way of working and triggering economic growth. But existing barriers online mean citizens miss out on goods and services, internet companies and startups have their horizons limited, and businesses and governments cannot fully benefit from digital tools.

With this in mind, the Commission launched its Digital Single Market strategy in May 2015 and has delivered its proposals. The focus must now be on making these a reality, starting with adoption by the European Parliament and the Council and following through with implementation by the Member States.

In May 2017, the Commission will present the mid-term review of the Digital Single Market to review where we stand so far and identify what still needs to be done.  This will be accompanied by the European Digital Progress Report which will give an in-depth assessment of the EU and Member States are progressing in their digital development and will identify potential steps to help improve national performance in digital.

Source: The European Commission