The growing digital divide between urban and rural areas is one of the major challenges faced by citizens and businesses in Europe. EU, national, regional and local governments must therefore intensify cooperation to ensure a decent access to internet and digital services in key areas such as healthcare, education, public services, social inclusion. This was one of the main messages that emerged from the meeting of the Commission for Economic Policy (ECON) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 8 July.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a growing digital divide between
well-connected urban and rural areas, between those who know how to use the
digital space and those who do not. The availability, actual use of
technology and the ability to take advantage of the enormous opportunities
offered by digital technologies has therefore a huge impact on cohesion in
the EU and can jeopardise the achievement of the
2030 digital decade goals.
The need to promote digital cohesion in Europe is the topic addressed by a
adopted by the
Commission for Economic Policy
(ECON) of the CoR during its meeting on 8 July. The opinion is seeking to
add the digital dimension to the definition of economic, social and
recognised by the EU Treaties
and to develop a clear understanding of the digital concept for the less
developed regions so that they can catch up with the rapid digital
transformation. CoR members particularly called for the provision of
necessary resources in different regions so that they can invest more in
digitisation, provide skills and training to citizens and ultimately
develop a stronger digital capacity.
(IT/EPP), Vice-president and regional minister for Economy of the Region of
Sicily, said: "
We have an opportunity to make an eco-digital transition. We can't
have one without the other. This is a crucial policy for the recovery
of Europe on digital cohesion and focuses on the essential role that
technology plays in our life: transport, administration, innovation,
environment. We must not forget about the specificities of islands and
that is why the digital transition is essential for them and to make
sure nobody is left behind.
Furthermore, ECON members adopted the
European Chips Act, highlighting in particular the importance of chips to achieve the
European Green Deal's objectives and the need to produce semiconductors in
a more circular way, in order to reuse raw materials and be less dependent
on suppliers from outside the EU. The current crisis has revealed
structural weaknesses in European value chains.
To support the expansion and diversification of the chip sector in the
European Union, local and regional authorities urge the EU to invest more
on the Chips Act implementation, building first on existing clusters and
ecosystems. Cities and regions can play a major role to strengthen the
European semiconductors industry by bringing together all involved actors
to further develop local production and research facilities. In addition,
they are ready to increase investment on training and upskilling at
regional level, for example through the establishment of a "Semiconductor
Academy" and a "Knowledge and Innovation Community".
(DE/EPP), Minister for Regional Development of the Free State of Saxony,
stated: "The European Chips Act is the right initiative at the right time. We
must continue to consolidate our strengths in the EU and promote
research and development of new technologies. To do this, the EU must
provide more money and we need a take-up in the next Multiannual
Financial Framework (MFF) 2028—2034. A key to the success of the chips
act is the training of skilled workers from research to production
through the establishment of a ‚Knowledge and Innovation Community
(KIC) Semiconductor‘ and a ‚Semiconductor Academy‘ following the
example of the ‚Battery Academy‘. SMEs should also get access to new
pilot lines and the new ‚Chip Joint Undertaking‘."
ECON members also adopted the
revised draft opinion
"Protecting Industrial and Craft Geographical Indications in the European
Union", where local and regional leaders assess the impact of recent
proposal by the European Commission on protecting the intellectual property
for craft products.
(FR/PES), rapporteur of the revised opinion and of the first opinion
adopted in 2021, Member of the Regional Council of Nouvelle-Aquitaine,
I welcome the European Commission's proposal that recognizes industrial
and craft geographical indications in a similar way as what already
exists for agricultural products. The Commission proposal thereby
follows up on what the Committee of the European Regions unanimously
requested in 2021. We were heard and are confident that we will also be
heard with suggestions for further improving the Commission proposal.
Our thread remains the need to protect the skills, the know-how and the
workforce behind these industrial and craft products, which are firmly
rooted in European cities and regions and are often part of their
All three opinions are scheduled to be adopted in the CoR plenary session,
which will take place during the
20th European Week of Regions and Cities
Furthermore, ECON members appointed
(DE/Greens) as rapporteur for the opinion "Single Market Emergency
(NL/EPP) as rapporteur for the opinion on the "Review Report on the
Implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility",
(IT/ECR) as rapporteur for the "Interoperability Governance Act" and
(PT/EPP) as rapporteur for the opinion "Progress in the implementation of
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