Recovery plan can make 2020s Europe’s digital decade: von der Leyen

Brussels, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends a press conference on the post-Brexit trade talks in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)

Brussels, Feb 5 (IANS) The European Union’s (EU) recovery plan to help repair economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic could be a game changer in the continent’s efforts to take the lead in the digital sphere, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said.

Addressing an online event on Thursday, she said the 750 billion euro ($897 billion) plan, known as Next Generation EU, is the largest digital investment plan Europe has ever seen, since at least 20 per cent will fund digital investment — equivalent to roughly 150 billion euros, reports Xinhua news agency.

“These are tough times for businesses all across Europe. It is hard to plan investment in the middle of a pandemic, with little certainty about the future. This is one of the reasons why we have put together Next Generation EU,” she told at the online event.

“Masters of Digital 2021” is the flagship annual event of Digital Europe, the leading trade association representing digitally transforming industries.

The event, which focuses on the role of digital in helping Europe emerge from the pandemic, runs until Thursday.

Von der Leyen said the recovery plan will invest in the skills European workers need for the digital transition, will support the creation of a European cloud, a world-class infrastructure to store and manage data, with the highest standards on security, on privacy and on data portability.

It will help bring high-speed internet to all corners of the bloc, including in the countryside.

“Next Generation EU can be a game changer. The fourth industrial revolution blurs the lines between the digital and the physical world. Next Generation EU can help this fourth industrial revolution just to go mainstream,” she said.

Von der Leyen said she put digital innovation at the core of her mandate because she believes the 2020s can be Europe’s digital decade, where Europe becomes a global leader in the digital world.

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