EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel presented the European Commission’s policies on digitalisation before MPs from four parliamentary committees. Mariya Gabriel had meetings in Parliament with MPs from the Foreign Policy Committee, the Committee on Internal Security and Public Order, the Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds, and the Committee on Transport, Information Technology and Communications.
In a statement before the media after the meeting, Chair of the Committee on Internal Security and Public Order Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that the EU Commissioner had presented the 18 legislative initiatives which would be discussed during the Estonian, Bulgarian and Austrian presidencies of the Council of the EU. We have agreed to hold more working meetings on security and the labour market, he added.
In 2020 over 90 percent of jobs will require a certain degree of computer competence and ability to use the internet space, said Tsvetan Tsvetanov. He quoted data from the European Commission, which reveal that 80 million EU citizens do not know or work with computers and the internet. We also discussed opportunities for organising awareness campaigns, for protecting adolescents from internet threats, as well as the actions that the Bulgarian government and parliament should take to implement the EU Data Protection Directive, said the Chair of the Committee on Internal Security and Public Order.
EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel thanked the chairs and members of the four parliamentary committees for the opportunity to share ideas, exchange views and outline the challenges to digitalisation. In her words, this will contribute to the successful completion the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, and the results will be visible.
There are 43 initiatives of the European Commission in digital economy and society; 24 of them are legislative, yet negotiations have been concluded for only 6 of them, said EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. During the Bulgarian Presidency we will have a unique opportunity to speed up the adoption of some of the 18 legislative initiatives and complete them by the end of 2018. This is the member states’ deadline for completion of the single digital market, she said.
Undoubtedly, digitalisation is part of our everyday life, it changes our way of life, training and work, it is a huge opportunity but also a challenge and risk, said Mariya Gabriel. We can implement wonderful economic reforms and create conditions for business development, but unless we ensure support for the people in the digital transition, we cannot hope for positive results, she said and added that only 37 percent of the active population in Europe had basic digital skills. That is why all national parliaments, governments, the NGO sector and the European Commission should mobilise and work together to increase this percentage, said Mariya Gabriel.
Cyberattacks know no borders and can have much more serious implications than conventional weapons, because they affect not only our personal data but also critical infrastructure such as energy, transport or the bank sector, said EU Commissioner for digitalisation.
Among the topics discussed with MPs from the Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds and the Committee on Transport, Information Technology and Communications were the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, digitalisation, cyber security, as well as opportunities for the accession of Western Balkan countries to the EU.
Chair of the Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds Kristian Vigenin emphasised that many of the priorities of the Bulgarian EU Commissioner will be an important component in the work of the government and the initiatives of the parliamentary dimension of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2018.
Digital economy and society are a main priority for the European Commission and for me it is important that the Bulgarian Presidency will have a key role in speeding up and adopting many legislative initiatives, said Mariya Gabriel.
With regard to cyber security, Chair of the Committee on Transport, Information Technology and Communications Halil Lefitov said that it directly relates to the sovereignty of any country because of lack of control on the digital sector. All citizens have been affected by such attacks and it is necessary to create enough mechanisms for prevention, he added.
Deputy Chair of the Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds Ivelina Vasileva expressed her confidence that the views, propositions and policies within the Bulgarian EU Commissioner’s line of duty would be duly defended.