By Ben Wreschner, Chief Economist and Head of Public Affairs, Vodafone Group
We all recognise we’re facing one of the biggest economic challenges of our lifetimes, but we should also use this as a chance to look forward and think about the kind of recovery we want to encourage – and the society we want to build. A digitally enabled recovery would enable a successful, green and resilient transformation in Europe, supporting its ambitions in the new Digital Decade. It’s a future that’s within our grasp, but we need to act now, together, to make it happen.
At Vodafone, we’ve already started supporting this road to recovery. We’ve established a Connected Europe, a partnership with Friends of Europe, that will help bring new solutions to EU policymakers. Together we’re talking to policymakers, business leaders and young people from across Europe to come up with solutions to create a fair, sustainable, and competitive European digital society in the future.
Working group idea generation
In late January, we held one of our first Connected Europe working group meetings: 30 policy and decision makers met to discuss ideas that could help Europe become a net creator of technology, rather than just a consumer and to come up with new, creative ways to improve digital skills.
Knowing what citizens want
Creating new solutions with policy makers is just one part of the Connected Europe activity. Something this important requires policymakers, business and civil society to come together to create solutions and agree the way forward.
To ensure we understand what’s important to people in Europe, Friends of Europe has just completed its first focus group study of citizen experiences of technology during lockdown. They spoke with 150 people from 16 European countries about their challenges, digital needs and what they want Europe to deliver in the future. These views are important in helping to define policy that delivers what people need, and Friends of Europe will be sharing the key findings in due course.
Connected Europe has three main pillars of activity that also tie directly into Vodafone’s Social Contract:
- Successful Europe
- Resilient Europe
- Green Europe
These three pillars are important because a strong economy cannot come at the expense of the environment and progress needs to be sustainable to ensure we are better protected against future challenges.
Connected Europe aims to unleash the full power of digital across Europe in the next decade. A Europe that will be able to carry on values such as respect for our planet, protection of our citizens and their rights, and build partnerships to drive the economic recovery of our societies.
And ultimately, Connected Europe is about driving the change and focus we all need to build back better – and ensure that a digitally enabled recovery can become a reality to secure a fair future for everyone.
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