In the Shaping Europe’s digital future communication, the European Commission is expressing its vision on digital technologies, calling for a “European society powered by digital solutions that are strongly rooted in our common values, and that enrich the lives of all of us: people must have the opportunity to develop personally, to choose freely and safely, to engage in society, regardless of their age, gender or professional background. Businesses need a framework that allows them to start up, scale up, pool, and use data to innovate and compete or cooperate on fair terms. And Europe needs to have a choice and pursue the digital transformation in its way“.
In her Political Guidelines, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen was referring to the digital transformation, stating that “Europe must lead the transition to a healthy planet and a new digital world. But it can only do so by bringing people together and upgrading our unique social market economy to fit today’s new ambitions“.
In the President of the European Commission Political Guidelines, it emerges that one of the European Commission priorities for the next five years is “a Europe fit for the digital age“. In this context, “the EU’s digital strategy aims to make this transformation work for people and businesses while helping to achieve its target of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050“.
It should be underlined, then, that the EU Digital Strategy is a direct consequence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Indeed, the European Union is adapting its policies and actions, considering the digital transformation in progress.
Indeed, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is “changing economic landscape and boundaries of industries and transforming the traditional business environment, creating new markets while destroying existing businesses” (Natalia Konina, 2021).
Disruptive Innovation ensures that the European Union is more than ever interested in digital technology issues, sometimes turning them into actions, such as Artificial Intelligence or European Data Strategy.
So, ultimately, the EU Digital Strategy is reflected in technology that works for people, a fair and competitive digital economy, an open, democratic, and sustainable digital society and Europe and Global Digital Player. (Mirela Mărcuţ, 2017; Despoina Anagnostopoulou, 2020)
First of all, technology should work for people. It should be useful in everyday people’s life. In this context the digital technology is developed and up-taken, echoing European values.
Secondly, a “digital single market” is an internal market where companies of all sizes and any sector can compete on equal terms and develop and use digital technologies.
Thirdly, Europe should act as a Global Digital Player.
Last but not least, the EU Digital Strategy should allow to create and enforce a democratic and sustainable digital society.
In 2010 the EU Digital Strategy started with the Digital Agenda and the Digital Single Market Strategy. The European Commission under its President M. Barroso launched the “Europe 2020 Strategy” for reviving the European Economy.
Following the second M. Barroso European Commission (2010-2014), the European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker (2014-2019), in his Political Guidelines, continued the Digital Strategy including “a connected Digital Single Market” as a priority. (Dariusz Adamski, 2018)
Basically, according to the European Commission Glossary, “Europe 2020” is “the EU’s ten-year strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. To deliver on this objective, five ambitious targets have been set, covering employment, research and development, climate change and energy sustainability, education, and the fight against poverty and social exclusion”.
The European Commission is pointing out in its communication, COM (2010) 2020, on “a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth“ that this strategy should help the European Union to “come out stronger from the crisis and turn the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity, and social cohesion“. (Despoina Anagnostopoulou, 2020)
The Digital Agenda was the main initiative of the “Europe 2020 Strategy“. Besides, it should be remarked that the European Commission, in its digital agenda communication, has clarified that “the overall aim of the Digital Agenda is to deliver sustainable economic and social benefits from a digital single market based on fast and ultra-fast internet and interoperable applications“.
The Digital Agenda initiative was essentially described in the Communication, COM (2010) 245 final/2. The Digital Agenda pillars, listed in the Digital Agenda Communication, consist in a vibrant digital single market, interoperability and standards, trust and security, fast and ultrafast broadband access, research and innovation, digital literacy, skills and inclusion, and ICT-enabled benefits for EU society.
Moreover, Jean-Claude Junker European Commission presented in 2015 the Communication, COM (2015) 192 final, on “A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe“.
In the Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe communication, the European Commission was specifying that “a Digital Single Market (DSM) is one in which the free movement of persons, services and capital is ensured and where the individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and engage in online activities under conditions of fair competition, and a high level of consumer and personal data protection, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence“.
The Digital Agenda and the Digital Single Market Strategy policy aimed to enhance EU growth through 132 specific actions divided into seven pillars.
It should be added that in 2014, European Commission was starting an EU policy concerning the Data-Agile Economy, including some Data Protection and Cyber Security Frameworks as the Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data, the Cyber Security Act, the Open Data Directive, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Finally, in 2018, European Commission presented Artificial Intelligence Strategy (AIS).
The Artificial Intelligence Strategy is expecting a coordinated plan prepared with the Member States to foster the development and use of AI in Europe.
As previously argued, in 2019, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her Political Guidelineshighlighted “the need of to lead the transition to a healthy planet and a new digital world” and, then, it was implemented with “2030 Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade” communication presented in 2020.
European Union is pursuing some actions. Among them should be reported Artificial Intelligence, Digital Service Act and Digital Markets Act, Cybersecurity, European Data Strategy, European Industrial Strategy, Digital Skills, High Performing Computing (HPC), Connectivity, and European Digital Identity.
The Next Steps:
This year European Commission is aiming to propose a Digital Policy program operationalizing the Digital Compass by the end of the summer and progressing towards the Inter-institutional declaration on Digital Principles.