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Digital technologies have changed the way we live and transformed the world around us at unprecedented speed. They have affected all important aspects of life, both at work and at home, and have influenced almost everything from human relations to the economy, to the extent that access to the internet has now become a basic human right recognized by the United Nations. This profound change presents both opportunities and threats to our society. Citizens need specific skills and access to be able to meaningfully take part in society and work. European businesses need an adequate policy framework and infrastructure to capture the enormous value created by the digital economy. Supporting innovation, removing barriers in the digital single market, and effectively managing and using data are the necessary tools to assist them and boost economic growth in Europe. The European Union takes an active part in shaping the digital economy and society, with cross policy initiatives that range from boosting investment, through reforms of copyright and e-privacy, to removal of geo-blocking and development of e-government. This multifaceted approach is necessary to facilitate adaptation to complex new realities. The European Parliament, as co-legislator, is involved in shaping the policy framework which will help citizens and businesses fully utilize the potential of digital technologies.
EU Connectivity targets:
The European Commission has set three specific connectivity targets for 2025:
- 1. All socioeconomic drivers, such as schools, transport hubs and main providers of public services, as well as digitally intensive enterprises, should have access to internet download/upload speeds of 1 gigabit of data per second (Gbps);
- 2. All European households, rural or urban, should have access to connectivity offering a download speed of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps), which can be upgraded to gigabit speed;
- 3. All urban areas, as well as major roads and railways, should have uninterrupted 5G coverage. As an interim target, 5G should be commercially available in at least one major city in each EU Member State by 2020.
Innovation, research and the use of data in the digital age
As pointed out in a 2016 World Economic Forum study, the digital revolution changes the nature of innovation. It increases the power of existing research tools and helps create knowledge based on the analysis of massive data sets. Digitization also increases product and process innovation, transforming existing industries and creating new ones. Finally, digital tools allow the transformation of traditional business models, leading to innovation in the way products and services are created and distributed. The study concludes that digitization increases the pressure on firms to innovate continuously. In the framework of the digital single market strategy, the EU has launched a series of initiatives to increase the innovation potential associated with the digital revolution.
Full study paper:
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