March 15, 2021
The Commission says that the Communication presents a vision for the successful digital transformation of Europe by 2030. It says that its ambition is to be digitally sovereign in an open and interconnected world and to pursue digital policies that empower people and businesses to achieve a more prosperous digital future.
The Communication follows President von der Leyen’s call in her State of the Union address on 16 September 2020 to make the next years Europe’s “Digital Decade”, responds to the European Council’s call for a “Digital Compass” in its Conclusions of October 2020, and builds on the Commission’s Digital Strategy of February 2020. The Communication proposes a set of digital principles, a rapid launch of important multi-country projects, and preparation of a legislative initiative setting out a robust governance framework.
The Commission proposes a “Digital Compass” to translate the EU’s digital ambitions for 2030 into concrete terms. They are framed by four main points:
- digitally skilled citizens and highly skilled digital professionals: by 2030, at least 80% of all adults should have basic digital skills, and there should be 20 million employed ICT specialists in the EU, with more women taking up such jobs;
- secure, performant and sustainable digital infrastructures: by 2030, all EU households should have gigabit connectivity and all populated areas should be covered by 5G; the production of cutting-edge and sustainable semiconductors in Europe should be 20% of world production; 10,000 climate neutral highly secure edge nodes should be deployed in the EU; and Europe should have its first quantum computer;
- digital transformation of businesses: by 2030, three out of four companies should use cloud computing services, big data and Artificial Intelligence; more than 90% SMEs should reach at least basic level of digital intensity; and the number of EU start-ups should be double; and
- digitalisation of public services: by 2030, all key public services should be available online; all citizens should have access to their e-medical records; and 80% citizens should use an electronic ID.
The Digital Compass sets out a robust joint governance structure with Member States based on a monitoring system, with annual reporting in the form of traffic lights. The targets will be enshrined in a Policy Programme to be agreed with the European Parliament and the Council.
The Commission plans to facilitate the rapid launch of multi-country projects, combining investments from the EU budget, Member States and industry, and building on the Recovery and Resilience Facility and other EU funding. In their Recovery and Resilience Plans, Member States are committed to providing at least 20% to the digital priority. Possible multi-country projects include: a pan-European interconnected data processing infrastructure; the design and deployment of the next generation of low power trusted processors; and connected public administrations.
Digital Rights and Principles for Europeans
The Commission is proposing to develop a framework of digital principles, such as access to high quality connectivity, sufficient digital skills, public services, fair and non-discriminatory online services, and more generally, to ensure that the same rights that apply offline can be fully exercised online. These principles should be discussed in a wide societal debate and enshrined in a solemn, inter-institutional declaration between the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission. It would build on and complement the European Pillar of Social Rights. Finally, the Commission proposes monitoring via an annual Eurobarometer whether Europeans feel that their digital rights are respected.
A digital Europe in the world
The Commission says that digital transformation poses global challenges. It will work to promote its human-centred digital agenda within international organisations through strong international digital partnerships. The Commission has already proposed setting up a new EU-US Trade and Technology Council. The Communication highlights the importance of investing in improved connectivity with the EU’s external partners, for example through the creation of a Digital Connectivity Fund. To read the Commission’s press release in full and for a link to the Communication and other information, click here.