The European Union’s bet on advanced technologies to help its companies and the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic faces hurdles ahead, held back by the uneven digital pace across the 27-country block, the EU’s budget watchdog warned on Tuesday.
Four years after launching a scheme called Digitizing European Industry (DEI) to speed up the digitalization of EU businesses, Europe is still not fully benefiting from advanced technologies, the European Court of Auditors said.
For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.
The project aims to mobilize about 50 billion euros ($58.6 billion) in public and private investment over the next five years.
The Luxembourg-based ECA, which vets the collection and use of EU funds, said the stakes are high as digitalization could generate more than 110 billion euros ($129 billion) in annual revenues.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app
“Digitalization of EU industries has progressed in recent years, but at different speeds between countries, regions and sectors. There are also large disparities between large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises,” it said in a statement.
Read more: European cities announce new restrictions to curb soaring cases of coronavirus
ECA cited the example of Germany whose digital strategy includes the building of a technology and know-how center targeting the automotive and robotics industries, and helping small companies.
It said Portugal also has a strategy in place to invest in automation and robotization and the production of contemporary furniture of innovative design, among other projects.
Hungary and Poland on the other hand had yet to develop a comprehensive strategy last year, the ECA said, as it lamented the limited influence Commission activities have on national plans.
It said the slow and uneven take-up of fast broadband among companies was another reason holding back the digital roll-out.
To accelerate its pace, EU countries should be matched with available EU funds, the DEI scheme better monitored, an EU-wide network of digital innovation hubs set up, and more measures needed to boost broadband usage, the ECA said.
European cities announce new restrictions to curb soaring cases of coronavirusEuropean nations from Denmark in the north to Greece in the south announced new restrictions on Friday to curb surging coronavirus infections in some ... Coronavirus
EU chief chides European governments for ineffective diplomacy, proposes bold stanceThe EU’s chief executive chided European Union governments on Wednesday for an ineffective foreign policy and proposed US-style sanctions on human ... World News
European Commission to choose more ambitious 2030 climate goal for EU, says documentThe European Commission will propose that the European Union sets a 2030 target to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions by “at least 55 percent” ... Economy
EU hits out at US threat of sanctions against European businessesThe EU's diplomatic chief on Friday attacked the US over its use of economic sanctions, after Washington opened the way to measures over Russia's ... World News
European Union top court rules against data-sharing with USThe European Union’s top court ruled Thursday that an agreement that allows big tech companies to transfer data to the United States is invalid, and ... Technology
European countries may opt for phased approach to global digital tax talksBritain, France, Italy and Spain suggested a “phased approach” to global digital taxation talks in a joint letter to the US treasury secretary last ... Technology