Exploring Digital Inclusion: Perspectives from Romania at “Investing in a fair and inclusive future for Europe” Event

We’re excited to share insights from the recent panel on National and Local Strategies on Digital Inclusion, held on March 13th – 14th, 2024, at The Egg, Brussels. This event, organized under the umbrella of The Belgian Presidency of the European Council, brought together representatives from across Europe to discuss pathways towards better digital services and a more inclusive future. The participants included SHIFT consortium partner ANBPR.

Spotlight on Romania: Accelerating Digital Inclusion Efforts

Representatives from the Association of Public Librarians and Libraries in Romania (ANBPR) and the EOS Foundation joined forces to shed light on Romania’s journey towards digital inclusion. Amidst the backdrop of the Digital Decade 2030 EU target, which aims for 80% of citizens to possess basic digital skills, Romania faces significant challenges. Currently trailing in the DESI index with only approximately 30% of citizens possessing basic digital skills, there’s an urgent need to bridge this gap.

Romania presents a unique landscape of contrasts and paradoxes in digital literacy. Urban-rural disparities persist, with significant portions of the population—especially the elderly, unqualified individuals, and those with lower education levels—lacking even the most fundamental digital competencies. This digital divide poses risks of exploitation and exclusion in an increasingly digital future.

However, amidst these challenges, Romania demonstrates remarkable adaptability and openness to technological advancements. While technological integration often benefits elites more than the general populace, Romania showcases a willingness to embrace innovation and skip ahead. Despite systemic challenges contributing to unfavorable statistics, Romanians possess a notable capacity to assimilate solutions validated elsewhere.

Exploring Solutions: The SHIFT Project

During the panel discussion, Ioana Crihana highlighted the transformative potential of initiatives like the SHIFT project, funded under the Horizon 2021-2027 program and involving ANBPR as a partner. The SHIFT project empowers cultural heritage institutions—such as libraries and museums—to leverage cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and haptic interfaces. By doing so, it promises enhanced cultural experiences accessible to all citizens, including those with disabilities.

In essence, Romania presents two faces in the realm of digital inclusion—a dichotomy that underscores the need for concerted action and long-term strategies. By fostering inclusivity and implementing cohesive approaches, Romania can bridge these divides and unite its diverse population in the pursuit of a digitally empowered future.

Joining Forces for Inclusion

As we reflect on the insights gleaned from the panel, it’s evident that collaboration and innovation are key to unlocking Romania’s full potential in the digital age. By championing inclusive initiatives like the SHIFT project and prioritizing digital literacy efforts, we can pave the way for a more equitable and prosperous future for all Romanian citizens.

#DigitalInclusion #SHIFTproject #HorizonEurope #ANBPR #EOSFoundation #EU2024BE #CulturalHeritage #Innovation

Skip to content