Europaforum Northern Sweden, a network which brings together politicians from the four northernmost regions of Sweden, adapted in May 2020 a position paper on digitalization in relation to the EU-commission's release of a European network of a Digital Innovation Hubs. The network highlights the European regions as key actors for realising a digital transition within the EU.
Europaforum Northern Sweden (EFNS) is a network for politicians at the local and regional levels from Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Jämtland Härjedalen and Västernorrland. EFNS has for the past 20 years provided a meeting place and a knowledge arena for discussion and analysis of the impacts of EU policy on northern Sweden. The overall aim of EFNS is to safeguard the interest of northern Sweden in matters with a clear European perspective. One area of interest is the Digital Europe Programme, a new financial instrument aiming to support improvements in digital technology in the next-long term EU budget 2021-2027. The European Union express high ambitions for European leadership in digitalization and has presented a set of instruments to support this development.
Regions driving digitalization
EFNS states in the position that the European regions are key actors in the transition towards digitalization and can in cooperation with academy, research institutes and commerce play an even larger role in the implementation of the EU´s strategies and support.
The Swedish regions has the responsibility for regional growth policy and the strategies for the regional development funds. They are a resource for the dissemination and inclusion of digital solutions all over Europe with its existing networks and organizations. The Smart Specialization Strategies enables strategic efforts and the implementation of the EU´s strategies in combination with an inclusive bottom-up process. The approach should be one of the platforms for the EU´s ambitions within digitalization, for example within the set up of a network of European Digital Innovation Hubs within the Digital Europe Program.
As an example, the actors in the regional innovation system of north Sweden has a strong capacity in Artificial Intelligence and process automation thanks to broad collaboration between academy, science parks and private companies.
EFNS also emphasises the role of regional development policy for increasing the regional digitalization capacity. EFNS argues that there are possible synergy effects between the EU’s ambitions within Digitalization and financial instruments for regional development, such as the Regional development fund and Horizon Europe.
Read the position paper by EFNS here.