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European institutions do their part to bridge the digital divide

European institutions do their part to bridge the digital divide

This month saw the kick-off meeting on the issue between CoR and EU Commission representatives

Last week, on 21 January, saw the first for the year meeting between representatives from the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the EU Commission dedicated to discussing and finding solutions for one of the major socio-technological problems today – that of the digital divide.

The meeting itself was conducted virtually and involved those CoR members who conform a specialized Broadband Platform team, whose work is to generate ideas and opinions which are then presented twice a year to the Commission as a way of helping it in the formation of its relevant policies.

Digitization has been identified as one of the pillars to COVID-19 resilience

The COVID pandemic has forced some deep changes in our daily lifestyles and many of them had to do with the way we conduct our work and business, making these operations remote and more virtually based, wherever that has been possible. This, however, had already been a development which predated the arrival of the virus.

If anything, the crisis has exposed the lack of reliable Internet connections in some of the rural regions of the continent, which in turn has threatened to create a type of inequality and socio-economic exclusion that is commonly referred to as the ‘digital divide’.

“It is difficult to imagine a more timely context for such a meeting than the one we have these days. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all seen an accelerated digitalisation in our daily lives. Digital technology has become imperative to ensure continuity in our working and private lives, be it through teleworking, home-schooling, e-commerce, e-health, e-government, digital democracy or digital entertainment,” said Michael Murphy, chair of the Broadband Platform.

“As a result, local and regional authorities are challenged to make connectivity and digital transformation work for citizens. We are concerned with closing the gaps in connectivity where they exist and with making use of opportunities that digital technology offers for rural areas," he continued.

The meeting summarized what the impact of the pandemic has been on the digitization and also served to adopt a working programme for this year. The work of these groups may not be as visible but it is their insistence on the importance of universal digital access that has partially caused the Commission to make investments in digital transformation and literacy one of the main pillars of the so-called Recovery Fund for Europe.

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