10 March, 2020
EU telcos support new Industrial Strategy, call for Member States to step up budgetary ambition
Brussels, 10 March 2020 – ETNO, the Association representing Europe’s leading telecom operators, welcomes the European Commission’s “Industrial Strategy” presented today. The Strategy recognises that a change of gear is needed in order to achieve global leadership through widespread digitisation of our rich and diverse industrial base. 5G, fibre networks and data-based services are firmly recognised as a major enabler of Europe’s industrial value-chains, including those of strategic importance.
ETNO therefore calls on all EU institutions and on Member States to support the Strategy through both concrete action and funding, with specific regard to budgetary commitments, competition law reform and demand generation measures. This should happen in the context of broader actions aimed both at supporting investment in state-of-the-art digital infrastructure and at reducing the cost of fixed and mobile network roll-out.
Ambition on digital uptake and Multi-annual Financial Framework
The Strategy recognises the need to significantly step up Europe’s effort on two major fronts: promoting uptake of digital technology across industries and increasing the EU budget dedicated to digitalisation. In this context, we call to further develop aspirational policy targets in the field of digital uptake across sectors, such as public administration, manufacturing or automotive. Similarly, we call for EU Member States to show concrete support by sharply increasing EU funding dedicated to digitisation, R&D and innovation activities.
We also underline that extensive uptake of digital technology will be crucial in achieving the ambitions of the EU Green Deal. As reports indicate, only by digitising all EU industries can we deliver a carbon-neutral economy.
Collaboration and competition in digital times
We share the view that EU competition policy should continue to deliver for EU consumers and to strive for fair market conditions for all. At the same time, we warmly welcome a recognition that Europeans are not only consumers, but citizens. This means that price is only one of the factors that competition policy should deliver on. Other crucial factors, which are especially important in the context of the European Commission’s new socio-economic objectives, are: employment, economic growth, scale to compete globally, EU digital leadership as well as the quality of our infrastructures and services.
We therefore welcome the review of EU competition rules and initiatives to strengthen industrial collaboration in Europe. Defining markets in a dynamic way, providing more flexibility for horizontal cooperation among industrial players and stressing the innovation focus are all essential to adapting the current framework.
A stronger skills and social agenda
We strongly support the Strategy’s focus on a renewed job and skills agenda. As digitisation radically changes job markets, we must accompany the current workforce in developing new skills. At the same time, we need to provide new generations with forward-looking skill sets and make sure everyone is included. In this respect, we particularly welcome the focus on leveraging female talent in technology. ETNO continues working on these matters together with its social partners, including through the “Digital Upskilling For All” programme.
Lise Fuhr, ETNO Director General, said: “This Industrial Strategy marks a change of gear in Europe’s digital leadership ambitions. Telecom innovation will play a crucial role in delivering on the stated objectives. We call on Member States to support the Strategy and match it with ambitious budgetary commitments”.