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Speech at event to present launch of Digital Spain Digital 2025

Thursday 23 July 2020

PEDRO SÁNCHEZ, President of the Government of Spain

Vice-president of the Government, ministers, the first thing that falls to me, public officials, dear friends, is to welcome you to Moncloa Palace, which is your home, the home of all Spanish men and women, and particularly to this room that we have baptised the Barceló Room, because we are surrounded by paintings of one of the great painters in Spain's history, who stands at the forefront, not only nationally, but internationally. And clearly this, when we are speaking with leaders, not just business leaders but also with representative of large corporations, recognised not just in Spain but internationally, is a source of pride to welcome you to this Barceló Room.

And secondly, something that I always stress at this type of event is that I understand that you have very busy schedules and that you have thus renounced part of your busy plans to be able to share the presentation of a Plan which is highly significant, in the government's opinion, and is a source of pride and gratitude as well, because in the end your presence bears witness to the importance of this Plan. So my thanks to you are doubled, and welcome to your home, the home of all Spanish people.

Earlier, José María, the Chairman of Telefónica, said something that I agree with, which is that we have had some great news this week - Europe has signed an historic agreement to rebuild our continent. And as you are all aware, many things were discussed at the European Council, it is a long time since I haven't slept for two nights in a row, but it was for a good cause. We have discussed the amount of the items, we have discussed the deadlines, we have discussed a host of different details, there have been intense debates from different positions, sometimes very distant, but all legitimate, all pro-European, but very divergent. But what we haven't discussed is what was already clear to everyone round the table at the European Council, which is that the funds must be allocated to the digital transition and to the ecological transition of our continent. Consequently, Europe is unanimously aware - there was no divergence on this - and has no doubts that the digital economy and the green economy are projects for the future. I would say that more for the present than for the future, as a result of this leap we have taken in the last five months. These are projects that we must therefore invest in, we must focus all our efforts because we will find sustainable growth and productivity through them, which has always been an Achilles Heels of the Spanish economy, to create quality jobs, and hence, prosperity and social well-being.

The economic leadership of the 21st Century will be played out through the digital transition and also in the digital arena. Europe, as the European Commissioner rightly said, wants to be a leader, it wants to head up the world in digitalisation, and Spain wants to be at the forefront of Europe in digitalisation. And both Europe and Spain have sufficient capacity to achieve this. But we must believe in ourselves and we are a country that does believe in itself.

One of the anecdotes that I mentioned to Chancellor Merkel is that our country is a great country, and when it proposes a goal not only marked by phases, but also by time limits, it invests all its efforts, all its intelligence and all its will-power in achieving this.

Hence, I have no doubt that we will be successful in this huge challenge to manage and transform, to modernise, consequently, as happened in the 90s with the cohesion funds of previous governments.

The government has been working on that since the outset. As you know, Third Vice-President of the Government Calviño, I would remind you, is the Minister for Economic Affairs and also for Digital Transformation.

What was back then a declaration of principles at the start of the legislature has become one of the most central challenges facing us over the next four years. And in fact, this was also included in the investiture speech following which I received the majority vote of the Lower House in January.

And today, we present the Digital Spain 2025 strategy, a strategic plan that seeks to give a decisive push to this search for Spain's digital leadership. This is not just one more Plan, as I said at the start of my speech, it is a major Plan. This is one of the strategic pillars on which the economic recovery of our country must be based to create jobs, to set up companies, to increase productivity and to conquer foreign markets.

To that end, I would like to make my first announcement, which can be seen in just one figure, and I feel that figures are very telling, above all when they are accompanied by business owners that are perfectly aware of the reality of the numbers. I will give you just one figure regarding the importance that the government assigns to this Digital Spain Plan 2025. We propose to disburse no more and no less than 140 billion euros of public and private investment under this Plan over the next five years. I repeat, 140 billion euros of public and private investment over the next five years.

Of these 140 billion euros which, given the maturity period of this type of investment, it is necessary to concentrate in the first two years, between this year and the next, what we propose is to boost the renewal of the Spanish economy after its consequent fall in production stemming from the pandemic, and give a decisive boost to this strategy.

Digital Spain 2025 provides for the implementation of a raft of structural reforms through some 50 measures, which will free up a sum of some 70 billion euros over three years, both in public and in private investment. Hence, of these 140 billion euros, 70 billion will be disbursed over the first three years and the other 70 billion in the following two years.

Public investment will stand at around 20 billion euros over the first three years, of which some 15 billion will correspond to the different programmes and the new financing instruments agreed with the European Union.

These figures help us appreciate the importance of the agreement reached on Tuesday to create the Recovery Fund, in addition to the investment forecast by the private sector, of some 50 billion euros, all under a moderate rollout plan. Meaning that it could in fact be even more.

The great strengths of Spain and challenges facing the country have already been mentioned here, as well as the threats we face and inherent weaknesses that we have discovered, as the Chairman of Telefónica righty said, during the five intense months of the pandemic. The purpose of this agenda is to develop all the instruments necessary to harness our strengths and also resolve the weaknesses and threats we face.

And yesterday, in this same room, as the Chairman of Telefónica righty said, we announced a very ambitious Strategic Plan for Vocational Training, the most ambitious of our entire democratic history, with an amount of 1.5 billion euros that we will disburse over the coming years and which, among other goals, must adapt the education offer for our young people to the needs of the productive system.

That is why I want to thank the Minister for Education and Vocational Training once again for her leadership of this important Plan (let's see if under this Plan, minister, we have a little more success with the media but, at any event, what is important is that the profession recognises the effort being made and the scope of the Plan and its importance).

Several studies state that most professions that will exist in 2030 have still not even been created, but we know that all of them will include digital skills. Hence, we must be ready for this scenario. The example of vocational training, I feel, illustrates this challenge in a cross-cutting fashion. The digitalisation of the economy not only falls under the jurisdiction of the government department of the Third Vice-President of the Government, Nadia Calviño, but of the whole government, and logically includes the Minister for Industry, the Minister for Education, the Minister for Science, the Fourth Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Ecological Transition, who are also here with us, the Minister for Culture, the Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister for Culture, in short, the whole government. And this is the conviction with which we are working, which is why we have placed one of the most cross-cutting challenges, which is the digital transition at the level of a vice-presidency of the government, as we also did with the ecological transition.

The measures and investments under Digital Spain 2025 are structured around 10 strategic goals that are fully aligned, and I feel this is very important - and hence the importance of the statement made public by the European Commissioner - with the digital policies set by the European Commission and also the global goals of the Recovery Fund.

Firstly, something that Commissioner Breton mentioned and which we agree with, and moreover we have an edge over other countries on our continent, is to guarantee the right digital connectivity for the entire population. This is a government committed to the demographic challenge. This is a government that has also seen that this pandemic can open up the opportunity for young people, and others not so young, who are going to work in cities but who come from the countryside as a result of working from home. Hence, I feel that we must guarantee that the entire population has access to digital connectivity, to which end we will include this in this Plan, a digital connectivity Plan as part of this Digital Agenda Plan 2025.

Secondly, I believe that it is true that there is a great deal of noise - let's call it that - in relation to this matter, but we want to continue heading up Europe on the rollout of 5G technology, which will allow us to increase productivity, social progress, territorial organisation… The Chairman of Telefónica said this before, Spain has more fibre optic connections to the Internet than the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany put together, which give us an edge that we must not waste. For the first time in the history of our country, we have reached the Industrial Revolution 4.0 in time.

Thirdly, we must enhance the digital skills of workers, of the unemployed, of all our citizens, placing great emphasis on catering for the needs of the labour market, of closing the digital gap in education, this is clearly one of the main concerns we have detected as a result of the pandemic, and during this pandemic we have also been able to observe how some homes, above all the most vulnerable, did not have the necessary resources for their children to continue studying online, under equal conditions, as well as many other questions that we have seen over these months of lockdown.

Fourthly, we have spoken here about cyber-security and I believe that one of the reflections we must make is the mass use that is prevalent of intoxication, of misinformation, of fake news, which clearly darken the information necessary for our citizens to understand COVID, to protect themselves from COVID, and consequently, to halt the spread of the virus. In relation to cyber-security, I feel that Spain can resort to some important instruments to become one of the main European cyber-security benchmarks, and what we will do there is support the capacity of the National Cyber-security Institute (Spanish acronym, INCIBE), which is in Leon, and develop a cyber-security hub around this body.

Fifthly, we must boost the digitalisation of the public authorities, and when I say public authorities I not only refer to the Government of Spain. This is a country committed to its form of State and consequently the regional governments must also boost and head up, together with local authorities, the digitalisation of the public authorities. Digitalisation will serve to simplify and personalise relations between citizens, companies and public authorities, in short, to update the technological infrastructures we have in the field of digital governance.

Spain is starting off from an excellent position, which I also feel is important to underline. While it is true that there is still a long way to go in public administration at the service of citizens, of users, of consumers, we start off from a situation that people are often unaware of, which is that we are in second place in the Economy and Digital Society Index of European countries. But the target we set must be very specific and very ambitious - by the year 2025, 50% of public services available must apply for support to perform a task and all of this must be available on a mobile application. That is, 50% of public services available must be able to be used on a mobile app.

In sixth place, speed up the digitalisation of companies, as has been said by the President of the Chamber of Commerce, with a particular focus on micro-SMEs and start-ups. This has been mentioned before, only one in four companies or micro-SMEs in our country has a digital plan, and this is one of the main revolutions pending that we must complete in the coming years, with the specific goal of 25% of turnover of SMEs by 2025 coming from electronic commerce.

And in this area, I want to highlight two projects that may have a big impact - the first is the completion of the Start-ups Act, that was put to one side as a result of the election processes last year and because of the pandemic, and the second is the creation of the National Entrepreneurship Office, which is set up on a large virtual platform that will act as a catalyst, as a reference point for SMEs, for independent contractors and for companies in general that have just been incorporated in everything relating to digital entrepreneurship.

In seventh place, we must speed up the digitalisation of the productive model through attractor projects for sector digital transformation. Some strategic sectors we have seen, which we have referred to through the pandemic, such as the agri-food sector, which is hyper competitive in our country, can be given a major boost through digitalisation. Mobility, in this sustainable perspective we must give - here we are not only talking about the automotive sector - must move towards a much more cross-cutting and broader concept that is much more tied in to the habits we are seeing in large and medium-sized cities as regards mobility. Health and tourism, on which the minister has been working for a long time, it must be said, in relation to these smart destinations. Trade energy. In short, the digitalisation of these strategic sectors can, I feel, benefit from this type of project which also has a dual objective, as has been mentioned here in previous speeches, on the one hand digitalisation, and on the other hand, de-carbonisation, through the ecological transition with the target of a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions as a result of digitalisation.

The eighth goal is to make Spain more attractive as a European business platform at an audio-visual level. I believe that this is one of the main challenges also facing us. I didn't find it hard to appreciate the impact digitalisation is having on the audio-visual sector, but it was precisely within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly that I was talking with the large technology corporations associated with the audio-visual sector and the importance for Spain of the production and development of this very important sector. I feel we have, and the Vice-President of Netflix said this earlier, certain qualities, certain assets, certain basic levers, not only in the natural environment, but above all, the creativity that is used in the series we all consume when we get home. So, we need to boost our analogue virtues and our powerful digital infrastructures.

We propose to increase audio-visual production in Spain by 30% by 2025. To that end, we will set up the Spain Audio-visual Hub. And I lay down the gauntlet to Ms Ferreras, the Netflix representative.

The ninth goal is to foster the transit towards a data economy which, by the way, in the previous section - the eighth goal in the audio-visual field - I believe that we should also think about the necessary contribution that RTVE must make, because firstly it has historical content, and secondly because it can contribute a great deal to the production of this content.

As I said, the ninth goal is to foster the transit towards a data economy, guaranteeing security and privacy, and harnessing the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence, as the Chairman of Telefónica said, and I fully share the need to open up a period of reflection, a public debate on the fact that, in the end, data constitutes a new productive factor, as capital does, human capital. In short, I feel that we must hold this debate and consequently interweave it with the tenth and final goal, which is to guarantee rights in the new digital environment, particularly citizen's rights, civil rights, labour rights, consumer's rights, and also those of our productive sector, of companies. That is why we want to have a National Digital Rights Charter by 2025.

These ten goals and this Digital Spain 2025 strategy were already, as I said at the start of my speech, on the roadmap of the Government of Spain, they were in the electoral manifesto, they were already conceived by the government and were present in the investiture speech. In fact, we have already implemented some of these measures, such as the "Educa en Digital" [Digitally educate] programme, to provide equipment and connectivity to students and schools and fight the digital gap at school, and the creation of a group of experts to draw up the Digital Rights Charter, and the creation of the Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council, which has met this very week.

The strategy was on our roadmap, but the pandemic - as mentioned here before - has caused these changes to speed up because the coronavirus has made some of our more pressing needs clearer.

Health digitalisation, for example, is now perceived by our people as essential after the COVID crisis. Although the degree of implementation of electronic clinical records in our country is very high, as you know, particularly for primary and hospital care, we must continue to step up the secure interoperability of data and any other health digitalisation aspect, including the use of artificial intelligence.

Furthermore, it is necessary to adjust infrastructures to the needs of people to work from home, which has not been something in passing but is here to stay in our societies to a great extent.

We have been thinking for some time what education should be like in the future, education in the world in which a large amount of information is already an accessible asset for everyone - digital gap apart, as I said before - and in which the added value of teachers must also thus change.

And of course, as I said before, we are in an ecological transition process that needs the digital transformation to build a cleaner and more sustainable economy.

None of these issues, ladies and gentlemen, is a minor matter and Digital Spain 2025 seeks to thus become a sort of State policy, because it needs the support of everyone. We have spoken here about support and public-private collaboration, but we also need the support of all public authorities regardless of the ideological colour of their governors. Hence, we aspire to make this a genuine State policy that lasts for many years.

Furthermore, because this strategy is aligned with something that all of us here and most citizens also consider to be central - which is the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations - which clearly accompany the logo of this government. And of course, as I said before, the European project.

Allow me consequently to end, as I began, talking about Europe in this historic week for the EU.

This strategy that we present today will address an alignment that I would say is fully in line with the goals of the European Union which, faced with economic and geopolitical challenges, has stepped up its commitment to guarantee European digital sovereignty based on EU values, as Commissioner Breton reminded us.

In February, the European Commission presented the communication entitled "Give form to the digital future of Europe", which laid the foundations for Digital Europe - the new European digital strategy.

The vision of Digital Europe is fully in line with the spirit of the EU and our past. And this vision places people, citizens, at the heart of things, as Commissioner Breton reminded us. It opens up opportunities for companies and fosters a more open and democratic society, that is more tolerant, we hope, and thus a more dynamic and more sustainable economy.

Europe is our home now more than ever. And its vision, have no doubts about this, is the vision of this government.

When we now say that we want to come out of the COVID crisis stronger, we don't mean that we are indifferent to the harm done to our society by COVID, above all the emotional harm. As the Chairman of Telefónica rightly reminded us, this comforting and necessary State ceremony showed an image of a Spain united by pain and united in remembrance of the victims of COVID.

What we mean is that the pandemic makes us aware as a society - in Spain and in Europe - of the sense and the urgency of some reforms that were already underway but which are now imperative, such as the digital transformation and also the ecological transition and their consequences for the labour market, for small- and medium-sized enterprises and for the whole of society. Because, unlike the COVID crisis, neither the digital transition nor the ecological transition can have a vaccine if we don't respond positively to them. It doesn't exist.

Hence, I believe that this feeling, this emotion that the whole society has of humility faced with the pandemic and its potential consequences, and the faster changes it has inevitably brought with it, together with the good news in Europe agreed last Tuesday, can mobilise a lot of positive energy, provide our country with a horizon to make this great transformation, this great leap of competitiveness and prosperity that Spain needs.

We want to thus say that our vision of what is important is more decisive now than ever. And we want to say, in summary that we believe even more firmly in the unity of everyone to work together on the same country project and the same European project.

Thank you very much for being here today.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Non official translation