The global economy has brought new challenges to the European societal model: competition based on low social and environmental standards in third countries, new ways of working developed by the digital giants, and the practices of tax dodging that enabled companies to do business on European soil without paying taxes where they perform their economic activity.
We believe the social market economy model is still the best placed to answer these new challenges.
Innovation brings change, but Europe can make sure that this change is to the benefit of Europeans. New advances in e-health, connected transport, smart urban planning, sustainable farming or inclusion for people with disabilities are all about making innovation work for people. Fearing innovation is for outdated political forces. The EPP Group embraces innovation, working on measures to ensure no-one is left behind.
The EPP Group is in favour of fair free trade agreements that respect our social standards and consumer rights.
We want to create the right environment in Europe for the digital economy to grow and new business models to develop, making sure workers in the digital industry enjoy an equal level of protection as those in traditional sectors.
We believe Europe needs an effective safety net for those whose jobs are threatened due to digitalisation, while prioritising education, life-long learning and digital literacy so that people are able to stay in the labour market.
We insist that digital companies play by the same rules as traditional companies; we want to end tax dodging and make companies pay where they perform their economic activity.
What we want to do in the next 5 years
1. Improve life-long learning opportunities
Workers whose jobs are affected by technological change have to get suitable and individualised life-long learning and training possibilities through EU programmes like the new Erasmus+ that will also cover life-long learning from 2021, the European Social Fund Plus that focuses on education and training, employment and social inclusion or the European Globalisation Fund that helps workers who are made redundant get education and training, find another job or set up their own business.
2. Enlarge pan-European youth projects
The EU can help improve job opportunities for young people by enlarging pan-European youth projects based on Interrail, Erasmus and other existing programmes.
3. Keep pressure on EU countries to reform their education systems for the digital age
We believe that education is key to keeping up with the transition to a digital economy and society. We want to remove the gap in digital knowledge to put education, digital literacy and infrastructure first. We want to give young people, who bear hope for the future, the best possibilities to learn digital skills. For this, we want to invest in things like Internet opportunity modules in schools.
4. Develop a European approach to AI
One of the strategic technologies for the 21st Century both globally and in Europe bringing positive change to the European economy and improving the quality of people’s lives is Artificial Intelligence. Our goal is to have a common EU approach for which we want to join research resources and coordinate investments. We want the new EU research and innovation programme Horizon Europe to support new advances in AI and robotics. We support including the new European University Institute 4.0 into the debate on ethical principles concerning the development of AI.
5. Complete the Digital Single Market
Next to education, the EPP Group stands for a strong economic policy. Our goal is to complete the Digital Single Market by setting up an innovation-friendly legal framework, attract venture capital and keep on providing the necessary digital infrastructure. For example, we also want to put an end to unjustified geo-blocking for the audio-visual or transport sectors. Completing the Digital Single Market could contribute €415 billion a year to Europe's economy.
6. Push for changes in tax policy
We believe it helps to create a fairer business atmosphere when digital companies pay taxes where they create value, just like traditional companies. The EPP Group was the first political Group to call for the concept of a 'significant digital presence' to determine in which country digital multinational companies have to pay taxes. We also believe it is important to improve EU tax policy to eliminate tax evasion, tax avoidance and shifting profits to tax havens.
7. Include digitalisation in future cohesion policy and other EU investment programmes
We plan to bridge the digital gap between regions by setting up an investment plan 4.0 where every region could benefit from a 21st Century knowledge infrastructure such as online learning platforms, mobile applications, 5G, Internet of Things, supercomputing, cloud computing infrastructure and research networks.
8. Continue concluding free and fair trade agreements with high social standards
Our priority is to keep our high social standards and protect your consumer rights when we conclude fair trade agreements. We will not give in on our high European standards; this is the way to make sure that European consumers are well protected and EU businesses can flourish.
9. Use new tech to protect health
We put people first. To protect the health of EU citizens, we want to make digital health models a priority. We want to be ambitious to be able to say one day we have found the solution to cancer. We want common investments and research in medicine to cure severe or deadly diseases. We insisted that the future European research and innovation programme Horizon Europe includes high priority mission areas like cancer research.
10. Keep you safe online
We also want to protect and keep you safe online. Our aim is to draw up a blueprint for cybersecurity and establish a European Cyber Brigade to answer to cyber threats, disinformation and fake news.
Fairness means no-one loses out
Fairness in the digital age means that everybody wins and nobody is left behind.
Digital innovation is already part of our daily lives. In the coming years, the digital revolution will bring us many more possibilities to improve living standards for people in the EU, create new jobs and empower consumers.
We believe that our future will be digital, but it should be strongly based on our values and our social market economy. The EPP Group wants it to be fair and accessible to all Europeans, so that everybody can enjoy the opportunities brought about by the technological revolution. To get there, we are committed to protecting our European values in a globalised world, preserving our Social Market Economy and investing in new technologies and innovation.