The European Commission (EC) called on technology standards bodies to prioritise 5G, cloud computing, Internet of Things, data technologies, and cyber security in a bid to accelerate its Digital Single Market strategy.
Those technologies have been defined as priority areas in new measures announced by the EC to address concerns that uptake of digital services and technologies by traditional European industries and the public sector are currently below par.
The EC identified industries including construction, agro-food, textiles, and steel as among those that are lagging in terms of digital transformation. It added that SMEs are also behind the curve, and noted that a comprehensive Europe-wide strategy is needed to prevent fragmentation in the region's digital transformation.
Günther Oettinger, commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, noted that Europe "has a very competitive industrial base and is a global leader in important sectors." However, he warned that "Europe will only be able to maintain its leading role if the digitisation of its industry is successful and reached fast."
The commission announced it will back up the work of standards bodies by co-financing the testing and experimentation of technologies that accelerate the process of setting standards covering fields including smart grids, mobile health services, and connected vehicles among other sectors. The commission also stated that the European Union will support the participation of European experts in terms of the region's participation in global standardisation efforts.
Andrus Ansip, the commission's VP for the Digital Single Market, said digitisation is the "industrial revolution of our time", and explained that the region needs "the right scale for technologies such as cloud computing, data-driven science and the Internet of Things" to fully exploit that revolution.
Public services must also be included in the push towards digitisation, Ansip added. "As companies aim to scale up across the single market, public e-services should also meet today's needs: be digital, open and cross-border by design."
The EC said it will invest €500 million ($568 million) to establish a region-wide network of digital innovation hubs that will offer advice to businesses and enable them to test digital innovations.
That investment is one of several commitments the EC made as part of its digital push. Other plans include assisting in national and regional initiatives on digitising industry, encouraging the use of existing public-private partnership programmes, establishing large-scale pilots for IoT and advanced manufacturing technologies, future-proofing legislation, and presenting an EU skills agenda to ensure citizens have the right abilities for the digital age.
A related move, announced separately, will see the commission create a new Europe Open Science Cloud to boost the sharing of information among researchers and staff working in the field of science and technology.
Report: LTE now in all EU countries, but more work needed on rural coverage
EU causes uproar with roaming rate, net neutrality decisions
EC's Ansip sides with Vestager on telecoms M&A
EU and China sign key partnership on 5G
EC Commissioner: Telecoms regulations cannot be decided by the industry alone