EIB urges European companies to step up – EURACTIV.com

Integral to business survival “Since the pandemic, the digital transition of some European companies is very slow and threatens Europe to stop in relation to the United States, warns the European Investment Bank (EIB) Thursday.

No investment in digitization, ” some European companies are in danger of being left out”alerts the bank in its report.

In the United States, nearly six in ten companies (58%) took advantage of the health crisis to accelerate their digital transition, compared with just 46% of European companies, notes the EIB, which surveyed 13,500 European and American companies between April and July. of 2021.

In Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in France, the percentage drops to 37%, compared to 48% in the west and north of the Old Continent.

In advanced technologies such as 3D printing or virtual reality, American companies are also one step ahead: two-thirds of them use them in their activity, against 61% of European companies.

carrots and stick

When it comes to digitization, the general gap between the EU and the US is mainly explained by the greater preponderance of small businesses in the European economy.”contained in the report.

Compared to large groups, small businesses are less likely to adopt digital technologies”adds EIB chief economist Debora Revoltella.

A discrepancy that can be explained several factors”how ” the difficulty of finding qualified personnel and financing the transition”explains Désirée Rückert, economist at the EIB.

In addition, small businesses are, on average, more digitized in the United States.”adds the Luxembourg-based bank.

A significant advantage given the many benefits of digitization highlighted in the report.

Companies that embraced digital technologies better managed the disruptions created by the pandemic. of Covid-19, according to the EIB.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, their sales have also fallen less than those of companies less committed to the digital transition.

Finally, the leaders of the most advanced digitization companies are comparatively more optimistic about their one-year prospects.

In addition to waving the carrots of digitization, the EIB is also waving the stick: the delay of certain companies” poses risks to the labor market.”.

In Europe, 31% of employees are linked to companies that do not invest in the digital sphere” (22% in the US), she says.

However, among these companies resistant to the digital transition, companies that have reduced their workforce after the pandemic are more numerous than those that have increased them.

“Numeric Fraction”

In an attempt to explain the digital backlog of some companies, the EIB identifies several brakes.

Almost one in six European companies believes, for example, that poor access to digital infrastructure is a ” big obstacle in your scanning process.

Furthermore, ” many companies expect robotization to lead” to the destruction of positions, a fear” particularly proven in Central and Eastern European companies”.

Between Finnish or Maltese digital champions and these hesitant companies, “ Europe is experiencing a growing digital divide.”therefore warns the EIB.

And that divide could get worse in the next few years, judging by the diverging investment priorities of European companies over the next three years.

The most advanced in the digital transition say they want to develop their activity, while the less committed are betting on the simple renewal of their production tools.

To help them catch up, the EIB offers targeted financial support to SMEs in particular.

We are concerned about SMEs, the European economy is largely based on their dynamism”, insists EIB economist Christoph Weiss. ” We have to find the right political instrument.” to accelerate your digital transition, he concludes.

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