This week, the work of the various EU institutions was under the sign of the advancing digitisation of business and society. Not only Parliament dealt with this issue in various reports; the Commission and ministers of the Member States also discussed it at the so-called “Digital Day” in Rome.
With the strategy for a common Digital Single Market, the Commission had presented an ambitious plan as to how the advancing digitisation should also be dealt with at EU level and how its potentials should be exhausted, as early as mid-2015. The strategy, consisting of three pillars with 16 different measures, is now also part of many discussions of the Committees of the European Parliament. The Commission used the “Digital Day”, which had been organised on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Rome Treaties, to once again underline the high priority, it assigns to the Digital Single Market.
At the centre of the Digital Day was an exchange of various aspects of an advancing digitised society, to which expert ministers of the Member States and stakeholders had been invited. What once began as a European Coal and Steel Community, developed over time to what the EU looks like today. Digitisation played an important role in this development and will continue to do so in future - be it as a bearer of hope for growth and wealth or as a real effective part in the life of many EU citizens. Topics of the Digital Day included a joint declaration of seven Member States - Austria did not take part - on the High Performance Computing Expansion and a Letter of Intent to intensify cooperation on testing of automated road transport in cross border test sites, which was signed by 29 countries including Austria. Apart from that, a Common European Platform for Digitising Industry was launched, whose objective it is to strengthen the exchange between national platforms, including the Austrian platform Industrie 4.0. Discussions were also held in respect of the competencies, which are necessary to find one's bearings in a digitised work environment.
Parliament too this week addressed the issue of how to deal with a digital world in future. In concrete terms, the Committee for Employment and Social Affairs adopted two statements on a Draft Report on a European Agenda on the Collaborative Economy, which to a large extent has also been organised via online platforms, as well as another one on the Digitisation of the European Industry. Based on the statements, the Committee affirmed that digitisation must not be allowed to result in the reduction of social rights and social dumping - neither online nor offline.
The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection discussed a Draft Report, which among other provides for a definition and clarification of liability aspects of online platforms. According to the current draft, online platforms include a wide range of sectors, such as search engines and social networks, but also profit oriented and non-profit oriented sharing platforms, which are also discussed in Parliament under the banner of the collaborative economy. Here too, the shadow rapporteurs of the S&D group emphasised that labour and social standards had to be adhered to and that aspects of consumer protection (transferability, compatibility and transparency) should be taken into account - in particular as online platforms were generating new forms of employment.
Hence, a lot is happening in all kinds of sectors in digital Europe. The Chamber of Labour too is having intensive debates with regard to the impact that digitisation has on industry, employment, various groups of society - such as women, young people and the elderly - as well as on necessary competencies and how such a process could be organised fairly.