Akava (the Confederation of Unions for Professionals and Managerial Staff in Finland) would like to see a competent and educated Europe with solid economic growth as well as a functional internal market and mobility. Akava’s objective is for Europe to seriously invest in science, research and sustainable development. We are hoping for such European cooperation that will extensively create added valued for all citizens. In other words, we need a strong European Union.
The strengthening of competence shall be a crosscutting theme in all EU policymaking. Knowledge and expertise constitute the foundation for the competitiveness of Europe, while also being prerequisites for sustainable growth and increased prosperity. The EU can bedeveloped into a global competence hub.
Investments in research and innovation within the EU should be doubled from the current level. This concerns both the future EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon post-2020) and the member states’ national R&I investments.
The essential aspects of the new economy and, thereby, the labour market are knowledge, competence and innovation ability. They are also essential for the purposes of employment, growth of productivity, civilisation, and civic engagement and participation in general.
Along with some other EU member states. Europe continues to be the globally leading area for the productionmof scientific publications (The Science, Research and Innovation Performance of the EU 2018). Nevertheless, there is cause for concern. In 2017, China’s research investments exceeded the overall value of research and innovation investments across the entire EU, and additional investments are underway.
In Europe, similar turns are yet to be seen. The Science, Research and Innovation Performance of the EU (SRIP) report also points out that the science and research based on old knowledge and competence is not sufficiently transforming into practical results.
On the other hand, there are some 70 million individuals within the EU who have difficulties with very basic skills. Only 10.7 per cent of the adult population is participating in lifelong learning activities. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings list will not have a single institution of higher education from any EU member state once Britain leaves the EU. Against this backdrop, it is essential for the EU to make a substantial turn in this area.
In the future, the economic leadership and jobs will be taken by those players that are at the forefront of changes related to robotisation, automation, platform economy, artificial intelligence, digitalisation, bioeconomy and similar areas. For the purposes of Economy 4.0, a broad EU programme is required with a focus on,among other things, research, an appropriate regulative environment, financing opportunities and support for innovative high-growth entrepreneurship.
The European pillar of social rights initiative shall lead to practical legislative undertakings in the field of working life, occupational health and safety, and equality. In particular, this should concern the new economy, new forms of work, and work in the digitalised information society. In addition, minimum security must be provided for the self-employed, and EU-wide protection must be ensured for whistleblowers.
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