European Economic and Social Committee

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European Economic and Social Committee


Conference held by the
European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
and Confrontations Europe

2016 Digital Day: Innovation in the digital era

Reinventing our economy
21 April 2016

8.45 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), 99 Rue Belliard, 1040 Brussels
Nothing can escape the digital revolution today. The Internet of things, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, big data, online platforms and the sharing economy are bringing new businesses into the digital fold and represent new opportunities for innovative SMEs and startups. The digital revolution is bringing about changes in modes of production and patterns of consumption, in how we understand the world, in how we govern, and even in how we live together in society. The digital economy is, however, a double-edged sword. It presents risks as well as opportunities, and chances for inclusion as well as exclusion; it provides new prospects for growth within our territory, for us as well as for international players preying on our markets.
Concrete action is needed to tip the scales on the positive side.
The conference will involve the participation of civil society players (industry, social dialogue partners, academics...) with direct, hands-on experience and will therefore make a contribution to fostering dialogue between industry and policy-makers. It will encourage debates and address issues across local, national and global contexts, and will be centred on the following topics:

  1. The digital economy at the heart of EU competitiveness: The role of public policies as a tool for fostering economic growth and new business models

  2. The voice of civil society: Digitalisation transforms business models across industry and services

  3. Boosting e-skills, facilitating job conversion and rethinking labour

  4. Looking ahead: New prospects for innovation from a regional perspective.


8.45 a.m. – 9.15 a.m. | Registration and welcome coffee

9.15 a.m. – 9.30 a.m. | Opening remarks

  • Pierre-Jean COULON, President, TEN Section, European Economic and Social Committee

  • Marcel GRIGNARD, President, Confrontations Europe

9.30 am – 9.40 am Keynote speech

  • Oscar DELNOOZ, Manager Digital Economy, DG Enterprise and Innovation, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs

9.40 a.m. – 10.20 a.m. | Opening debate

  • Tobias KOLLMANN, President, German "Young Digital Economy" Advisory Board (BJDW)

  • Benoît THIEULIN, Former President and member, French Digital Council, (CNNum)

Moderator: Carole ULMER, Director of studies, Confrontations Europe
10.20 a.m. – 11.30 a.m. | Section 1

The digital economy at the heart of EU competitiveness: The role of public policies as a tool to foster economic growth and new business models

  • What regulatory framework and European initiatives are needed to enable a new industrial policy 4.0?

  • To what extent could the digitalization of EU industry strengthen its leadership?

  • What is the right policy approach for unleashing the potential of innovative services?

  • How can public authorities keep pace with digital technologies which disrupt sectors and markets and have an impact on our business models and policies, as well as the way we produce and consume?


  • Holger KUNZE, Director of the European office, German Engineering Association (VDMA) (DE)

  • Khalil ROUHANA, Director, "Components & Systems", DG CONNECT, European Commission

  • Jenny TAYLOR, Manufacturing policy, Advanced Manufacturing & Services, ‎ Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (UK)

  • Joost VAN IERSEL, President, ECO Section and rapporteur of the EESC Opinion on "Industry 4.0 - The way forward" (still ongoing), European Economic and Social Committee

Session moderator: Antonio LONGO, EESC member and President of the Permanent Study Group on the Digital Agenda

11.30 a.m. – 11.45 a.m. | Morning coffee break

11.45 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Session 2

The voice of the civil society: Digitalisation transforms business models across industry and services

  • How can "traditional" businesses of all sizes take the digital revolution in their stride and upgrade their business models?

  • What is slowing them down and what allows them to speed up?

  • What do they need to drive the digital transformation and to succeed in this?

  • What do they expect from public authorities − European, national and regional?


  • Arnaud CHATIN, Head of EU Representation office, Michelin

  • Luc HENDRICKX, Director Enterprise Policy and External Relations, UEAPME

  • Laurence HONTARREDE, Chief Strategic and Marketing Officer, BNP Paribas Cardif

  • François NICOLAS, Vice President, Head of Diabetes & Cardio-Vascular Integrated Care, Sanofi

  • Marta ZOLADZ, EU policy adviser, European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT)

Session moderator: Gundars STRAUTMANIS, member of the European Economic and Social Committee
1 p.m. – 2.30 p.m. | Lunch hosted by the EESC
2.30 p.m. – 3.45 p.m. | Session 3

Boosting e-skills, facilitating job conversion and rethinking labour

  • How can businesses upgrade workforce ICT skills and ensure a smooth transition to the digital world? How can European economic and social stakeholders cope with the shortage of digital skills in Europe?

  • What can the EU do to ensure that everyone takes full advantage of new digital technologies?

  • What are the opportunities and challenges for workers in the digital era?

  • What are the new forms of employment? What are the labour market implications? How can the public authorities accompany this change? Is a new regulatory framework needed?


  • Gilles BABINET, Digital Champion for France, European Commission

  • Laure BATUT, Rapporteur on "Enhancing digital literacy, e-skills and e-inclusion", Group II "Workers", European Economic and Social Committee

  • Benedikt BENENATI, Vice-President Digital Communications, Renault

  • Sandrino GRACEFFA, Managing Director, SMart (BE)

  • Ala’a SHEHABI, Senior Researcher, the Work Foundation, Lancaster University (UK)

Session moderator: Louise DECOURCELLE, policy officer, Confrontations Europe
3.45 p.m. – 4 p.m. | Coffee break
4 p.m. – 5.15 p.m. | Session 4

Looking ahead: new prospects for innovation

  • How can we support profitable cooperation between big businesses and start-ups?

  • How can we optimise the network between universities, businesses and investors, create public and private programmes, and develop incubators and ecosystems as well as hubs and clusters of competitiveness?

  • How can we develop and maintain an approach to innovation that is both multidimensional and involves all stakeholders? And what would be the optimal market regulations and industrial European policies for supporting these initiatives?

  • How can we transform the digital revolution into a competitive advantage?

  • How do we ensure innovation goes hand in hand with social progress?


  • Claire BURY, Deputy Director-General, DG CONNECT, European Commission

  • Christophe CLERGEAU*, First Vice-President, Pays de Loire Region

  • Aymeril HOANG Director for Innovation, Société Générale

  • Lenard KOSCHWITZ, Director for European Affairs, Allied for Startups

  • Eva PAUNOVA*, MEP, member of IMCO committee, European Parliament

Session moderator: Carole Ulmer, Director of studies, Confrontations Europe
5.15 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. | Concluding remarks

  • Günther OETTINGER, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society

Practical information

  • Interpreting will be provided from English, French, German and Italian into English, German and French.


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