Young people are engine of Europe's digital future
This is the first time in EU history that we have a tally budget, Gabriel says
11 May, 2018
The European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel believes that digitalisation poses challenges that no single EU Member State can handle on its own. At a citizens' dialogue held at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” on 9 May under the motto The Future of Youth in Digital Europe, she underscored that this is the most digitally-friendly budget in the history of the EU and noted that the project providing free wireless internet to municipalities throughout Europe has been launched. In the discussion with an audience of young people, Commissioner Gabriel was joined by Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU Lilyana Pavlova and MEP Iskra Mihaylova.
“Europe's future is digital and the youth is the engine of digital Europe,” the EU commissioner said.
Among the major challenges, Gabriel highlighted the shortage of qualified workers in the sector and reminded that Europe is in need of some 350,000 IT specialists, a number that is expected to grow. As of 2020, 90% of jobs will require basic digital skills, which is in stark contrast with data showing that today 44% of Europeans lack those, the commissioner stressed. Gabriel also touched on security, one of the Presidency's priority themes, and the new dimension created by digitalisation - cyber security.
“To me, young people should be at the centre of the policies we are creating,” Gabriel noted. “The Erasmus programme is a symbol of our success; its funding will be raised,” she added. The EU commissioner says that this next budget will be the most digitally-friendly one in the EU's history.
“It is important that we maintain a realistic view of digital Europe. Digitalisation is a source of economic growth but also creates a risk of greater social exclusion, more poverty, and further marginalisation of regions. This is why the youth has a key role,” cautioned Gabriel. She noted the need for a common European approach revolving around citizens.
The EU commissioner also said that the project providing free wireless internet for municipalities throughout Europe has been launched. Some 15,000 municipalities have registered so far. At 2pm on 15 May, all registered municipalities will have to take the last step in applying, and then 1,000 beneficiaries will be selected. This means that a minimum of 15 Bulgarian municipalities will benefit from the programme, Gabriel explained.
Minister Lilyana Pavlova noted that 2018 is important as the year in which Europe's future and the next multi-annual financial framework are being discussed.
“The draft for the next multi-annual financial framework is ready, and I am glad to see that the three things Bulgaria has been fighting for are there - retaining traditional policies like the Cohesion Policy (convergence, regional and agricultural policy); providing a vision for the future, the enlargement process, a solidary and open union; addressing the issue of modern challenges - terrorism, migration, climate change.”
MEP Iskra Mihaylova noted that the meeting with students will send an important message to the government as the country has to make a decision regarding its place in the EU's future and its speed of development.