As we get ready to celebrate Europe Day, we reflect on what 2020 brought: unprecedented challenges, economic hardship, and loss. It has not been easy to cope, and even less so to stand up for the ideals that 71 years ago first brought Europeans together: cooperation, equality, and solidarity. Society is changing – and the digital era is entering our lives at full speed. Building a Europe fit for the digital age is now vital, and we need to make sure that it materialises in such a way that all citizens benefit.
Bridging the rural-urban gap is a perfect example of how we can do this. Regions facing demographic challenges in countries like Portugal or Bulgaria can go from being at risk of depopulation to becoming hubs for high-skilled workers. For this they need better infrastructure and good connectivity. Rural coverage can be easily improved by allowing all vendors to bring their most innovative and affordable solutions to the market. In the end, what we want is all Europeans to have network access at the lowest possible cost.
But there’s more. When businesses are having to shut down and unemployment is going up, we must join forces to create future-proof jobs. Huawei, for instance, is not only not cutting its European workforce – it’s creating jobs oriented to the value chains of the 21st century: over 100 new ones in Ireland thanks to an €80 million investment in local R&D, and 500 at our ‘5G Made in Europe’ factory being built near Strasbourg.
Furthermore, women are an essential part of Europe’s recovery – and as such they must have a say in the way technology shapes our future. To support female empowerment in practice, we have launched the Huawei Women Developers Program.
“Building a Europe fit for the digital age is now vital, and we need to make sure that it materialises in such a way that all citizens benefit”
Beyond gender equality, inclusion also means respecting and embracing diversity. We need to step up efforts so that automatised processes, for instance, avoid racial, ethnic, or other biases. Non-discrimination must be our guiding light – when hiring people, when maintaining social and business relations, and when regulating the development and deployment of new technologies.
Last but not least, it’s our shared duty to make the Europe of tomorrow fit for its own population – including people with disabilities. Together with the Spanish start-up DIVE-Medical, we have created an AI application that can detect visual disorders in babies, so that parents can plan a brighter future for their children from the very beginning.
But the story doesn’t end here. Our quest for equality, diversity, and inclusion as the driving forces of the digital era continues, even as the coming years test everyone’s abilities to bridge divides and enhance cooperation. The key is to remember that we are stronger when we advance together, as every 9th of May reminds us.