Our recommandations – Innovation in the digital era: reinventing our economy

Confrontations Europe

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  1. Adapt educational and training systems to 21st century needs
  • Make sure digital skills are included in the curriculum from nursery school to higher and continuing education (today, only 20% of training programmes include a digital component).
  • Develop new educational tools like MOOCs (massive open online courses) and SPOOCs (small private online courses) and new, least-cost forms of education widely accessible to millions of Europeans. To reform learning methods and schools, Member States should also draw inspiration from best practices already in place across Europe.
  • Promote lifelong learning, for example using new, digital-based training methods (e-learning, blended learning, etc.) accessible to all workers.

2. Adopt a holistic approach to skills

  • Adapt education to the digital age: the challenge is not only to provide current and future generations with the technical skills associated with new technologies, but also to build a new culture of collaboration and entrepreneurship. The skills required go beyond just learning to code. Among other things, a propensity for initiative, critical thinking, creativity and teamwork is essential.
  • Make the transition from managing jobs (which tends to protect existing jobs at all costs and hence encourages relocation rather than the redeployment of workers across Europe) to managing the skills allowed by digital tools,
  • Support cooperation between industry and other stakeholders to tailor vocational and academic training in ICT to labour market needs.
  • Give businesses the resources they need to invest in skills and training. Investment in human capital by private stakeholders and through the EFSI plan must be effective.

3. Support mobility of talents in Europe

  • Attract new talent by adopting a European Start-Up Visa.
  • Extend the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme internationally to encourage mobility among entrepreneurs from the incubation phase.

4. Accompany labour market’s mutations and new forms of employment

  • Initiate a European debate with all stakeholders on the new welfare system in the digital age and encourage Member States to engage in discussions with all stakeholders on sharing the value created by innovation and digitalisation.
  • Develop social indicators to monitor these societal changes

5. Position social dialogue at the heart of the digital transformation

  • Make sure the challenges raised by the digital transformation are incorporated into European social dialogue at all levels.
  • Social partners and businesses must join forces to introduce long-term solutions for maintaining business competitiveness while making sure workers get the retraining they need. Social partners have an essential role to play in encouraging workers, the unemployed and those furthest from the labour market to seek training in order to prevent discrimination based on age or qualifications.
  • Introduce this new culture into companies through a horizontal, rather than vertical management approach. Put the focus on cooperation rather than hierarchy.


  1. Create a true, united common market
  • Continue efforts to harmonise taxation in Europe
  • Continue simplifying administrative formalities under the Better Regulation initiative.
  • Facilitate the growth of European start-ups by introducing the concept of a European innovative enterprise.

2. Implement an ambitious and coordinated European Digital Strategy

    • Aim to develop a strategy that catalyses private initiatives, by taking inspiration from successful schemes such as Industry 4.0 in Germany and fostering cooperation and partnership.
    • Establish a roadmap of key projects (e.g. Internet of Things, a European cloud and cybersecurity) to create a continuous chain between research, innovation and the market and coordinate them through European calls for projects.
    • Set up public-private partnerships to promote digital technology (e.g. the ECSEL91 initiative in the electronics sector).
    • Develop a social network connecting managers of small and intermediate-sized businesses.
    • Lead the way in standard setting, thus enabling the interoperability and development of European or even global industrial processes.

3. Support our innovative companies in their international growth

  • Establish a real “innovation diplomacy” to simplify funding for internationalisation projects and improve support for companies seeking to establish operations abroad.
  • Create a “one-stop-shop” to centralise internationalisation information and procedures.

4. Data: a regulatory framework conducive to innovation

  • Reaffirm personal data protection as a fundamental right, while endeavouring to establish a framework that guarantees the portability of data and rights.
  • Support the creation of a European data agency.
  • Distinguish between personal and non-personal data when drafting regulations and dealing with the public.


  1. Promote cooperation between large companies and start-ups as a new model of European competitiveness
  • Create a European forum of international perspective to enable start-ups to promote their projects and set up an online “one-stop-shop” for the same purpose.
  • Share best practices employed in certain countries to combine start-up flexibility with the market accessibility enjoyed by large companies.
  • Propose a code of good relations between large companies and start-ups and provide partnership agreement templates.

2. Facilitate the establishment of actual innovation sites, letting stakeholders take the lead

  • Restore the innovation culture within European, national and local public authorities by providing support for training public officials.
  • Establish regular international benchmarks for new innovation practices.
  • Promote exchange and cooperation between teachers and entrepreneurs.
  • Support the development and networking of thematic European innovation centres involving a range of different stakeholders and encourage sharing of best practices at European level.

3. Facilitate access to loans.

  • Create a European Capital Markets Union (CMU) and increase venture capital investments in Europe.
  • Enable more savings to be channelled into innovation
  • Promote the creation of a European stock market (in vertical markets of strategic European interest, such as cybersecurity).
  • Develop a European business transfer market to boost investor confidence by facilitating buyouts of European start-ups and encouraging IPOs.
  • Develop an ecosystem of competent stakeholders by providing support for training in this area.
  • Facilitate the access of start-ups to financing under the Juncker Plan

4. Facilitate SMEs and independents access to public procurement

  • Promote the introduction of a Small Business Act II.

5. Make room for the principle of innovation in regulation

  • Develop a European right to experimentation in line with the principle of innovation promoted by the European Commission

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