This week, the European Commission proposed a European digital plan to reach the EU’s digital aspirations by 2030. The Europe’s Digital Decade revolves around four points: (i) creating digitally skilled citizens and highly skilled digital professionals, (ii) cultivating secure, performant and sustainable digital infrastructures, (iii) encouraging digital transformation of businesses and (iv) accelerating the digitisation of public services. With Europe’s Digital Decade, the European Commission aims to build a sustainable, sovereign European digital ecosystem accountable to its citizens and upheld by European values of transparency, openness and privacy protection.
Sustainable Digital Infrastructure
The Commission aims to create a sustainable digital infrastructure to establish Europe’s digital leadership. Significant investments and EU coordination will target connectivity (to ensure gigabit networks for European homes and 5G coverage for all populated areas), the production of semiconductors (striving for 20% of the world’s production in value in Europe by 2030), high-performance computing and data infrastructures (to strengthen European cloud infrastructures and capabilities) and quantum technologies (to be at the forefront of quantum capabilities).
Digital Transformation of Business
Europe’s Digital Decade places importance on the development of cutting-edge disruptive innovation, benefiting SMEs and European Startups. By 2030, the Commission aims for more than 75% of European enterprises to adopt cloud computing services, big data and AI solutions and to have more than 90% of SMEs reaching basic levels of digitisation. Specific investments will bolster EU startup growth, and Digital Innovation Hubs and Industrial Clusters will facilitate their access to the latest digital technologies. Alongside these efforts, specific regulation will support the trend, with an update of the EU’s Industrial Strategy by the end of 2021.
Digitisation of Public Services
The Commission has advocated for a meaningful and critical approach to the digitisation of public services and the interactions of citizens and businesses with public administrations. An ambitious target has been set for 2030, to achieve 100% online provision of key public services and to have 80% of EU citizens using the European Digital Identity.
Multi-Country Projects and International Digital Partnerships
The Commission has expressed the importance of cooperation amongst Member States and EU institutions to reach the 2030 objectives. To facilitate this, new mechanisms will be implemented to accelerate the launch of multi-state projects, backed by the Recovery and Resilience Facility, Cohesion Funds and other EU funding. Alongside with the multi-country projects, the Commission will develop International Digital Partnerships (IDPs). The IDPs will be built on core EU values and based on inclusive multilateralism to reflect different stakeholders’ interests. The IDPs will be underpinned by regulatory cooperation, skills and capacity building, investment in international cooperation and research partnerships focused on 6G, quantum technologies and the use of ICTs for green development and environmental concerns.
Following this announcement, the EC will begin consultation processes, seeking input on different aspects of Europe’s Digital Decade including the ambitious 2030 targets. It is expected that the Commission will propose a Digital Policy Programme by the third quarter of 2021.
How Could Tech Companies Respond?
Companies should consider participating in the upcoming discussions and consultation process to make sure that the industry perspective is present in the European digital strategy for the next decade by raising sector-specific concerns and suggestions.
Companies should gather as much intelligence as possible on how Europe’s Digital Decade and upcoming regulation can create opportunities for engagement on:
- supporting SMEs on the digital transformation of their business;
- supporting EU institutions on the digitisation of public services; and
- funding opportunities from IDPs, multi-country projects and EU investments for infrastructure research and deployment.
Access Partnership is closely monitoring all developments regarding the consultation. For more information regarding this matter or to get involved in the consultation, please contact Simona Lipstaite.