European perspectives on digital transformation, connectivity, and rights protection

Writer Samira Joineau
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In an increasingly digitized world, European citizens’ views on advanced connectivity, cybersecurity, digital skills development, and the protection of digital rights are crucial indicators of the continent’s readiness for the future. Let’s delve into the insights provided by a recent survey led by the European Commission – Eurobarometer, shedding light on Europeans’ perceptions and priorities in the realm of digital technologies.

The survey highlights a consensus among a majority of Europeans, with 76% believing that advanced connectivity will significantly improve their daily interaction with digital technologies. Similarly, 77% of respondents emphasize the importance of stronger cybersecurity measures to enhance their digital experience. These findings underscore the growing reliance on digital infrastructure and the necessity for robust security measures to ensure a smooth and secure digital environment.

Clearly, advanced connectivity not only facilitates seamless interactions but also supports the proliferation of smart devices, enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) to become an integral part of daily routines. In parallel, the concern for stronger cybersecurity signifies an understanding of the potential risks posed by an increasingly interconnected world. Considering that cyber threats are growing sophisticated, individuals are recognizing the need for robust measures to protect their digital presence. 

This said, the importance of digital skills development proves then evident, as two-thirds (67%) of European citizens call for increased education and training to enhance their digital prowess. This reflects an understanding of the evolving job market, where digital skills are becoming increasingly indispensable. In other words, possessing strong digital skills is essential for employability and career growth. 

This demand for skill-building does align with efforts to bridge the digital gap and enable all citizens to fully participate in the digital economy. 

Besides, over 80% of Europeans believe that collaboration among member states is essential to advance access to digital technologies, foster innovation, and enhance global competitiveness for European companies. This sets forward the collective mindset towards leveraging technology for economic growth and progress. 

Acknowledging the potential of cross-border collaboration highlights the aspiration for European countries to collectively exploit technology’s power for competitive advantage on the global stage. 

Not to forget about how technologies can help address climate change challenges. From energy-efficient solutions to data-driven insights for sustainable practices, technology could surely be harnessed to tackle pressing global challenges. As the survey demonstrates, a significant percentage (66%) of Europeans foresee digital technologies playing a pivotal role in the fight against climate change.

Yet, individuals are concerned about their digital rights being upheld, especially regarding data control, online safety for minors, and protection against disinformation. This reveals a potential gap between policy intent and practical implementation, emphasizing the importance of aligning legislation with the digital reality.

When asked about national priorities, protecting users from cyber attacks emerged as the top concern (30%), followed by improving high-speed internet availability (27%) and countering disinformation and illegal content (26%). This shows that cybersecurity concerns, reliable Internet access, and information integrity are vital components of a positive digital experience. 

To note that the European Commission addressed this with the latest legislation that came into force last Friday, the Digital Service Act. This is part of the Digital Decade policy program, listing concrete targets and objectives for 2030, so as to guide Europe’s digital transformation. It remains to be seen how these new approaches and legislations will truly fulfill the objectives set. 

Overall, European citizens’ perspectives on digital transformation, connectivity, and rights protection offer valuable insights into their attitudes and expectations regarding technology’s role in their lives. As Europe continues to navigate the digital landscape, addressing concerns, fostering collaboration, and enhancing rights protection, will be pivotal in realizing the full potential of digital technologies for societal progress.

Source: European Union's Eurobarometer