Digital Transformation

Why is this topic a priority for the EU?

Digital technology is transforming our lives – the way we work, the way we learn, and how we interact with others.  The EU’s digital strategy aims to make this transformation beneficial for people, businesses and the planet, while working toward its goal of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. 

To track the development of the digital transition and the digital skills gap, the European Commission publishes the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) each year. Based on DESI findings, the Commission has set targets to ensure that 70% of adults have basic digital skills by 2025 and that the level of 13-14 year olds who underperform in computing and digital literacy is reduced from 30% (2019) to 15% in 2030.

The European approach to this digital transformation will be based on three pillars:

  1. Technology that works for the people
  2. A fair and competitive digital economy
  3. An open, democratic and sustainable society

To ensure that its digital transformation goals are met, the Commission offers an extensive range of initiatives and funding instruments. These include the Digital Education Action Plan, the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, and the Digital Europe Programme.

Relevant EU Policies and Objectives 

Digital Education Action Plan

The Digital Education Action Plan (DEAP) is the European Commission’s vision for high-quality, inclusive and accessible digital education in Europe for 2021-2027. Its two strategic priorities are 1) fostering the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem and 2) enhancing digital skills and competences for the digital transformation.

Key Points:

  • Under the DEAP, the European Commission will create a European Digital Skills Certificate (EDSC) that is recognised and accepted by governments, employers and others across Europe
  • The Commission will develop common guidelines for educators to foster digital literacy and tackle disinformation
  • The Commission will create a European Digital Education Content Framework that will build on European cultural and creative diversity

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

The Digital Education Action Plan will provide civil society organisations with various opportunities to upskill both their workforce and their beneficiaries. Through the Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ funding programmes, civil society organisations will also be able to access funding to undertake research or participate in cooperation projects addressing the Digital Education Action Plan goals.  In addition, organisations can connect with the new European Digital Education Hub which will support cross-sector collaboration and new models for exchange of digital learning content at a national and regional level. 

Digital Europe Programme

The Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL) is the EU’s first financial instrument focused on bringing digital technology to businesses and citizens. With a planned overall budget of €7.5 billion, the Digital Europe Programme will fund projects in supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills, and ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society.

Key Points:

  • The programme will be complementary to a number of other EU funding programmes supporting the digital transformation, including Horizon Europe
  • DIGITAL will support the design and delivery of programmes and traineeships in key capacity areas such as cybersecurity, data and AI.
  • DIGITAL will also support the upskilling of the current workforce through trainings in these key capacity areas 

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

DIGITAL will provide opportunities for civil society organisations to access funding to engage in activities which address the programme’s objectives. Other EU funding programmes will provide additional investments in the area of digital transformation to complement DIGITAL including the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme. Civil society organisations will be able to access these funding streams through various calls for tenders and proposals throughout the 2021-2027 EU budget period.  

Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition

The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is a partnership of companies, nonprofit organisations, educational providers and Member States who pledge to take action to boost and promote digital skills in Europe. These actions can include things like initiatives to upskill or retrain unemployed people, courses for educators or advanced training for ICT sector employees. 

Key points:

  • Each year the Coalition promotes and recognizes digital skills initiatives through the European Digital Skills Award
  • Member States can support collaboration between organisations active in digital skills development in their own countries by bringing them together in national or local coalitions
  • The Coalition invites Member States to develop and implement comprehensive national digital skills strategies.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

The Irish Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition was launched in 2017 and includes members from academia, nonprofit organisations, the public service and formal and nonformal education. Civil society organisations can learn more about their actions and how to become involved here.

Useful Links

Shaping Europe's Digital Future


Digital Europe Programme

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