Digital economy will make EU stronger

25 October 2013, Last updated at, 11:37 EET
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author: R. Dačkus

President Dalia Grybauskaitė is attending a European Council meeting to discuss the best possible use of the opportunities offered by the EU digital market. The Digital Single Market is expected to be completed by 2015. It stands as a key priority on the Lithuanian EU Presidency agenda.

"At the present moment the EU is searching for ways to boost economic growth. In this respect, the digital market has a huge potential which is not yet used to full extent. The removal of barriers in this market will open more opportunities for both businesses and consumers. A full digital market can add considerably the EU's GDP growth," the President said.
 
The implementation of digital initiatives will provide Europeans with more opportunities: e-trade will build up, coordinated rules will advance investment across the European Union, and more public procurement will be done on the Internet. In this area, Lithuania is a leader in the EU: almost 90 percent of its total public procurement is carried out electronically. As competition increases, the quality of digital services will improve and their prices will go down.
 
The President underlined that it was also essential to place special focus on training a skilled IT workforce. There are estimated 300,000 vacancies in the EU's IT sector, with a shortage of 6,000 specialists in Lithuania alone. It is important to improve the digital skills of Europeans and to upgrade IT studies. In Europe and in Lithuania, new initiatives are developed to deal with the most urgent issues of digital training.
 
In the process of establishing the EU's digital market, it is also important to make people feel secure in the e-space. It is essential to agree on European common personal data protection standards and on measures to ensure cyber security. The President emphasized that it was critical to find the right balance between personal data protection and regulation in this sector.
 
According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, it is necessary to invest more into innovations. We need to better connect research with business needs and options as well as to support experimental production. Even though Lithuania invests considerably into developing innovations, they are not always translated into goods. In terms of effective use of funds, Lithuania is among the EU's lag-behinds.
 
On November 6-8, Lithuania will host one of the largest EU Presidency events - the European conference on information and communications technology "ICT2013: Create, Connect, Grow" where European ICT experts will discuss relevant policy issues.
 
The EU leaders also reviewed progress in other initiatives aimed at boosting growth and competitiveness. They discussed combatting youth unemployment, creating the banking union, coordinating economic reforms, and implementing the Services Directive. Among the other issues on the meeting's agenda was the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises.

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