Nordic and European parliamentarians agree that the digitally developed Nordic countries can play a larger and more important role in Europe's digital future. For example, Sweden has many technology companies that have entered the global market. With the help of EU's new digital strategy, European member states can promote development for digital companies on the EU market.
‘The Nordic region and the EU's development strategy for a digital future’, were the theme of a webinar organised by the Nordic Council on March 3rd. Over 30 Nordic and European parliamentarians and experts gathered to discuss the possibilities and challenges of the digital age.
When it comes to digitalisation, the Nordic region is already considered a pioneer and a natural partner for the EU. In the EU Digital Economy and Social Development Index (DESI) index, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark perform highest, closely followed by Estonia, compared to the remaining member states.
Shaping the future
The conference discussed challenges linked to the dominance of large technology companies across many digital platforms. For example, there is a risk that dangerous and counterfeit products will be bought and sold online alongside EU consumer safety regulations. It is a development that challenges the EU's internal market.
Digitalisation creates inequality
Europe's ability to manage the digital transition is affected in great demands by skill levels and digital skills. Both Nordic and European participants in the discussion expressed concern that home schooling and isolation create differences between young people, and that the lockdown during the Corona pandemic has revealed a generational gap in digital skills. The problem comes as no surprise to The President of the Nordic Council, Bertel Haarder.
"No, it's no surprise to me. Resourceful young people with digital skills have learned a lot during the lockdown. Others probably have not learned much and will have a lot to catch up on. We also have a huge intergenerational divide, which is a problem for the welfare state. In addition, there is a gap between pupils and teachers who lack digital skills. The only way to solve this is education, education, and education," according to Haarder.
The way forward
The European Commission has a four-year timetable for the 'Europe equipped for the digital age' strategy and the European Parliament is working on several new legislative proposals aimed at improving network security and exercising greater control over digitalisation.
Ministers have decided to extend the mandate of the Nordic Council of Ministers until 2024. Cooperation between the Nordic region and the Baltics has worked intensively from the outset to adapt to the EU's various digitalisation initiatives. The technical solution for the Nordic-Baltic e-ID project is already in place. It is now up to the national governments to establish relations between the respective national agencies.
Read more about the EU's digitalisation strategy "A Europe fit for the digital age" here