European social partners representing both employers and workers in the print and paper sectors, including Intergraf, Cepi, UNI Europa Graphical, FEPE, and IndustriAll Europe, have issued a joint statement raising concerns about the growing prevalence of digital-only approaches in European legislation.
The European Commission’s increasing focus on digital transition in recent years has led to references to the potential elimination of printed paper products in various EU legislations, spanning industrial and medical products to consumer information. In response, the partners behind the joint statement emphasize that while they acknowledge the importance of digital transition, the ‘digital by default’ or
‘digital only’ approaches should not be viewed as neutral. Print plays a crucial role in an inclusive digital transition that upholds fundamental rights to access information for everyone while positively contributing to inclusion and education. While acknowledging the importance of digital transition, the co-signatories argue against adopting a ‘digital by default’ or ‘digital only’ approach. Such approaches are not neutral and may exclude sections of the population, particularly older individuals, those with disabilities, people with limited incomes, and those lacking basic digital skills – which make up over
one-third of EU citizens
Studies have demonstrated that print offers distinct educational advantages and better comprehension compared to digital reading. The industry representatives stress that policymakers should consider these educational benefits and the potential social and economic risks associated with over-promoting digital solutions. The partners highlight the sustainability of paper and print, pointing out that paper is based on renewable resources, primarily utilizes renewable energy in its production, and boasts a recycling rate of 70.5%. In contrast, the environmental footprint of digital solutions, including energy consumption and electronic waste, often goes unacknowledged.
The co-signatories collectively call upon EU policymakers to refrain from implementing ‘digital by
default’ or ‘digital only’ legislation. They emphasize that print and digital communications should be
considered simultaneously, taking into account ecological, circularity, inclusion, and freedom of choice
Source – Intergraf October 2023