State of the European Union 2020: Europe’s Digital Decade

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, presented this morning to the European Parliament her vision in her first State of the European Union address. “Europe’s Digital Decade” will be backed up by 20% investment in digital from NextGenerationEU funds. Here are some of the main themes and announcements.

Green transition

Following extensive impact assessment, the Commission is proposing to increased the 2030 target for emission reduction to at least 55%. This is believed to put the EU on track for climate neutrality by 2050 and for meeting the Paris Agreement obligations.

To meet this commitment, the Commission announced that it will set a target of 30% of NextGenerationEU's 750 billion euro to be raised through green bonds. Secondly, the Commission believes that NextGenerationEU funds should be used to invest in lighthouse European projects with the biggest impact: hydrogen, renovation and 1 million electric charging points.

Data

The Commission President focused on the importance of industrial data. The amount of industrial data in the world will quadruple in the next five years. Thus, the Commission is looking to give EU companies, SMEs, start-ups and researchers the opportunity to draw on this potential.

The common data spaces initiative - for example, in the energy or healthcare sectors - will support innovation ecosystems in which universities, companies and researchers can access and collaborate on data. A European cloud as part of the NextGenerationEU and based on GaiaX has also been highlighted as supportive infrastructure for the growth of the European data economy.

Emerging technology and AI

On AI, von der Leyen focused on a human-centric approach to rules and regulation. The Commission will propose a law next year, focused on transparency of algorithms and clear rules “if something goes wrong”.

The Commission will also soon propose a secure European e-identity, that will allow citizens to use it anywhere in Europe to do anything from paying taxes to renting a bicycle. Control over personal data and how it’s used will be a key part of the upcoming proposal.

Infrastructure

The investment boost through NextGenerationEU will look to drive expansion to rural areas. The investments will be focused on secure connectivity, on the expansion of 5G, 6G and fiber.

NextGenerationEU is also seen as an opportunity to develop a more coherent European approach to connectivity and digital infrastructure deployment. To that end, the Commission announced an investment of 8 billion euros in the next generation of supercomputers – “cutting-edge technology made in Europe”. Von der Leyen also mentioned a wish that the European industry develops a European next-generation microprocessor that will allow Europe to use the increasing data volumes in an energy-efficient and secure manner.

Members who have questions about any of these proposals and announcements, can reach out at sabina.ciofu@techuk.org.

  • Sabina Ciofu

    Sabina Ciofu

    Head of EU and Trade Policy
    T +32 473 323 280

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