Maintaining social distancing, without losing contact with others. Accessing data away from the office. Monitoring production chains without being on-site. Digitalisation makes all of these actions possible.

“Without digital technologies, the economic and social repercussions of COVID-19 would be even more dramatic,” explained EIB President Werner Hoyer in a recent op-ed published by Handelsblatt and Der Tagesspiegel. “The coronavirus could become a turning point for digitalisation, and Europe should make bold investments in this area.”

EU Member States lagging behind

Digital companies are not only more innovative and faster-growing than non-digital businesses, they also create more jobs. Currently, almost all the technology platforms we rely on are based in the United States. Similarly, only five of the top 100 fastest-growing artificial intelligence companies in the world are European – and none of them are among the 50 largest. 

Over the past 15 years, Europe has been investing less in research, development and innovation than other main players. The enormous recovery programmes launched due to the crisis offer the EU an opportunity to sharply develop this area to catch up with global competitors.

In addition, green and digital technologies are expected to be the growth markets of the next few decades - and climate change can only be managed through a combination of these two elements.

Further reading: Who is prepared for the new digital age?

“It would be dangerous and illusory to think that we could meet the climate targets for 2030 and 2050 with current technologies,” President Hoyer affirmed. “While Europe is at the forefront of green technologies, for digitalisation the reality is very different.”

“If we want to secure our values and prosperity for future generations, we must strengthen the global competitiveness of our companies”, he continued. “Consistent innovation and more productive, sustainable growth will enable us to emerge from the crisis sooner.”