THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- considers that the term "digital cohesion" is an important additional dimension of the traditional concept of economic, social and territorial cohesion defined in the EU Treaty. The CoR therefore proposes an open debate on the future role of digitalisation in promoting "cohesion" in the European Union. The aim would be to address societal challenges, while making sure not to leave any person or region behind;
- calls for strong European cooperation between all levels of government in the EU to achieve better use, further enhancement and upscaling of a citizen-driven digital transformation in cities and communities;
- stresses that the network of digital innovation hubs should be promoted throughout the EU, with a view to ensuring that each NUTS2 region has one hub, established with the support of the Digital Europe programme;
- supports the proposal made by DG CNECT during the 2019 Digital Assembly to produce a "local DESI index" to complete the existing Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) that is produced every year at national level; recommends close cooperation between DG CNECT, the European Committee of the Regions, the ESPON (the European Spatial Planning Observation Network) programme, and other initiatives and institutions to develop the concept for such an index, which then should be produced on an annual basis by DG CNECT alongside the national DESI index;
- underlines the need to address the crucial issue of data, in itself and in the context of Artificial Intelligence, and the way it is handled by local and regional authorities. The Committee could contribute in this regard by facilitating the exchange of best practices and deepening the reflection on the management of personal and public data by local and regional authorities. The CoR calls for serious reflection on the principles of data circulation in the light of the challenges of protection and sovereignty of data of general interest vis-à-vis digital giants.