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Europe’s Digital Strategy and the Global Race for Digital Sovereignty

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“Data has turn out to be a make any difference of geopolitics and geoeconomics”

On the January 29, 2020, the European Commission (EC) released the “Commission Get the job done Programme 2020″. Beneath the 2nd priority, “A Europe match for the digital age” – the EC declared its intention to place forward for session a abundant array of strategic files outlining Europe’s digital strategy, writes Safe Refrain founder Elisabetta Zaccaria.

The 1st set of files ended up published on February 1, 2020 together with ‘Shaping Europe’s Digital System’, ‘A European System for Knowledge’, and the white paper ‘On Synthetic Intelligence – A European technique to excellence and trust’.

As element of the identical body of operate, the EC intends to publish a abundant array of supplemental files in the upcoming, some will be new and some a revision of existing kinds. The EC is preparing to evaluate the ‘Directive on Protection of Network and Data Systems’ and the ‘Digital Training Motion Plan’.

New upcoming frameworks for digital will consist of inter alias the ‘Digital Companies Act’, an ‘Industrial System for Europe’, a ‘SME Strategy’, a report on the ‘Single Market place Barriers’, a proposal for a ‘Single Market place Enforcement Motion Plan’, and a ‘White Paper on an Instrument on International Subsidies’. Eventually, it will publish an updated ‘Communication on the Upcoming of Research and Innovation and the European Research Area’.

The leitmotif of this set of files sticks close to what are by now common themes for federal government digital strategies – a declaration of digital independence.

In point, not only the EU but also other governments are searching to develop sovereign digital infrastructure and regulatory frameworks governance mechanisms to management facts in alignment with their political, countrywide protection and economic agendas.

Europe's digital strategy
The European Parliament, Strasbourg, credit: David Levêque, by using Unsplash

Knowledge, a make any difference of geopolitics and geoeconomics

In the area of just a number of yrs, facts has turn out to be a make any difference of geopolitics and geoeconomics. Figuring out how to govern the elaborate facts ecosystem, each enabling its possible and running its pitfalls, has turn out to be for governments a make any difference relating to politics, countrywide protection and financial state.

Just as the allies gathered at Bretton Woods in 1944 with the principal target of regulating the intercontinental monetary and financial order right after the conclusion of Entire world War II, governments are now negotiating, at intercontinental degree, facts and digital infrastructure sovereignty, territoriality and governance.

The EU is barely the only one issuing a new strategy to increase its digital sovereignty. Quite a few nations around the world have issued comparable strategies and bodies of legislation for example, in China and Russia the function of the condition in facts security and cloud infrastructure has been put at the epicentre of regulation.

 A nearer search at the EU programs on digital sovereignty

Adhering to up on the EU Lisbon Strategy’s objective to turn out to be the ‘most dynamic and competitive expertise-based mostly financial state in the environment by 2010’, in 2015 the EU adopted its Digital Single Market place System (DMS) – an formidable set of steps mainly centered on legislative and policy reforms addressing inter alias difficulties relevant to e-commerce, copyright, telecoms, audio-visible media, on the web platforms, large facts, security of own facts, and cybersecurity, as properly as standardisation and e-federal government.

In 2018 the EU issued a landmark piece of legislation – the General Knowledge Protection Regulation (GDPR) – regulating own facts security of EU citizens, irrespective of which element of the environment the data handler is in.

However, in the wake of a world wide digital ‘cold war’, the EU seems to have arrive to the realisation that its normative technique is no for a longer time enough to safeguard its political, countrywide protection and economic interests and that it requirements to develop its own digital sovereign capability. This is to, 1st, turn out to be much less reliant on foreign systems which is a issue from a defence and countrywide protection point of view. 2nd, facts sovereignty is significant for the EU to be ready to increase its domestic digital financial state as properly as compete at world wide degree.

In response, the EU has lately published its Digital System 2020 – 2025, which is a blend of each legislative and non-legislative initiatives. I am furnishing underneath an overview of the most noteworthy initiative.

‘See: A European System for Data‘

Possibly the most notable non-legislative element of A European System for Knowledgeis the enhancement of Typical European Cloud Infrastructure and the creation of Typical European Knowledge Spaces.

Europe’s motivations for seeking its sovereign Typical European Cloud Infrastructure will come from its prolonged-standing issue for its overdependency on foreign cloud suppliers.

1st, the EU is apprehensive that its regulatory frameworks will no for a longer time be enough to safeguard its facts which are remaining processed exterior its territory to stop foreign nations from implementing their own legal frameworks over this kind of facts, the EU has realised it requirements to establish its own sovereign cloud capability.

2nd, overeliance on foreign tech firms also poses a issue from a defence and countrywide protection point of view primarily in relation to domestic significant countrywide infrastructure.

Third, the enhancement of sovereign cloud capability meets the EU ambition to develop a sturdy domestic marketplace of cloud suppliers.

A further significant cornerstone of its facts strategy is the creation of Typical European Knowledge Spaces, recognising that obtain to facts is a prerequisite for potent Synthetic Intelligence (AI) techniques for the gain of EU financial state. The goal is to develop a genuine single marketplace for facts where general public and personal sectors have uncomplicated obtain to big amounts of higher-quality facts to develop and innovate.

See: White Paper on Synthetic Intelligence

With its white paper ‘On Synthetic Intelligence – A European technique to excellence and trust’, the EU needs to set up an ecosystem of trust inside of obviously defined moral boundaries. In order to reach that, its white paper outlines a chance-based mostly technique to make proportional regulatory intervention mainly in relation to ‘high-risk’ AI programs.

The white paper also aligns with the Pointers on Trustworthy AI, particularly human agency and oversight, specialized robustness and safety, privateness and facts governance, transparency and accountability, diversity, non-discrimination and fairness, societal and environmental wellbeing.

Digital Companies Act

Later on this calendar year, the EU will also existing a Digital Companies Act (DSA) which aims to strengthen the single marketplace for digital services. The act will area larger transparency and compliance obligations for digital platforms as properly as give a more powerful anti-trust framework to make certain a good and competitive digital marketplace, primarily for smaller firms. The ultimate target is to make certain that EU legal policies apply on the web as they would offline. The legislation will be the 1st of its kind globally to keep track of material on digital platforms at scale and demand elimination of misinformation and illegal material or deal with fines.


Although the EU continues to be open up for organization with foreign tech, its digital strategy has produced a apparent assertion outlining its firm intention to establish sovereign digital capability in order to far better safeguard its countrywide protection and choose comprehensive economic advantage of the facts financial state. 2nd, foreign participation in EU digital marketplace will be on EU conditions from now onwards.

See also — Europe’s Markets Watchdog: Verify You Can Exit the Cloud