The European Commission has unveiled its vision and targets for a successful digital transformation of Europe by 2030, seen as critical to achieve the transition towards a climate neutral, circular and resilient economy.
The EU’s ambition is to be digitally sovereign in an open and interconnected world, and to pursue digital policies that empower people and businesses to seize a human centred, sustainable and more prosperous digital future. This includes addressing vulnerabilities and dependencies as well as accelerating investment. The EU will also promote its digital agenda on the global stage, and promote alignment or convergence with EU norms and standards.
The Communication published on 9 March proposes to agree on a set of digital principles, to rapidly launch important multi-country projects, and to prepare a legislative proposal setting out a robust governance framework, to monitor progress – the Digital Compass.
Announcing the package, Commission President Ursulavon der Leyen said: “The pandemic has exposed how crucial digital technologies and skills are to work, study and engage – and where we need to get better. We must now make this Europe’s Digital Decade so that all citizens and businesses can access the very best the digital world can offer. Today’s Digital Compass gives us a clear view of how to get there.”
Europe’s Digital Compass
The Commission proposes a Digital Compass to translate the EUʼs digital ambitions for 2030 into concrete terms. They evolve around four cardinal points:
1) 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 – while more women should take up such jobs.
2) Secure 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.
3) Digital transformation of businesses: by 2030, three out of four companies should use cloud computing services, big data and Artificial Intelligence; more than 90% of SMEs should reach at least basic level of digital intensity; and the number of EU unicorns should double.
4) Digitalisation of public services: by 2030, all key public services should be available online; all citizens will have access to their e-medical records; and 80% citizens should use an eID solution.
International partnerships for the Digital Decade
The EU will also promote its human-centred digital agenda on the global stage and promote alignment or convergence with EU norms and standards. It will also ensure the security and resilience of its digital supply chains and deliver global solutions. These will be achieved by:
- setting a toolbox combining regulatory cooperation, addressing capacity building and skills, investment in international cooperation and research partnerships;
- designing digital economy packages financed through initiatives that bring together the EU, Member States, private companies, like-minded partners and international financial institutions;
- combining EU internal investments and external cooperation instruments;
- investing in improved connectivity with the EU’s partners, for example through a possible Digital Connectivity Fund.
Support for a resilient digital transformation is one of the five policy priorities highlighted by the European Commission in its proposal for the long-term policy objectives of the Eastern Partnership beyond 2020, with support channelled through the EU’s EU4Digital initiative.
Digital technologies have been critical to maintaining economic and social life throughout the coronavirus crisis. They will be the key differentiating factor in a successful transition to a sustainable, post-pandemic economy and society. European businesses and citizens can benefit from greater digital opportunities, fostering resilience and mitigating dependencies at every level, from industrial sectors to individual technologies. The European approach to the digital transformation is also a key factor underpinning the EU’s global influence.
The level of EU financing available under the Recovery and Resilience Facility will permit the unprecedented scale and intensity of cooperation among Member States that is necessary to achieve a successful digital transformation. A 20% digital expenditure target has been set for each national plan, accompanying the digital component of the 2021-2027 European budget.
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