miércoles, 31 de julio de 2019

Ursula´s digital plan

On July 16th, the European Parliament confirm the election of Ursula Von der Leyen as the first woman to preside the European Commission. In her inaugural speech, the new President outlined what is going to be  the Union priorities for the period 2019-2024 under the vision of "A European Union that strives for more". Although she mentioned twice at the beginning of her addressing to the Parliament her worries about the effects of digitalisation on society and economy, few more details were given about her ideas on this area. Just a paragraph on her standing in favor of a fair taxation system where tech giants pay the just share of their benefits.

Perhaps, the new President gave in her speech quite few importance for digital issues compared with what those responsables for digital sector policies in Member States and sectoral stakeholders expected. Nevertheless, the fears were partially soothed wit the publication her full political guidelines. Building up "A Europe fit for the digital age" is among what she calls the six headline ambitions for Europe over the next five years. Unfortunately, in the brochure the digital policies look again as the less fortunate member of the family, with a space of less than two pages, the shorter space dedicated to one of the six of her policy axis.

On the bright side, we should welcome that the goal to achieve digital sovereignty is rightly highlighted as the basis for the forthcoming digital policies. The need to invest in artificial intelligence, 5G, blockchain, high-performance computing, quantum computing, algorithms and tools to allow data sharing and data usage is underlined. Nevertheless, it is missed a clear bet on shared projects of common interest as the the target of these investments. Either Union Member States pool resources for the development of the platforms of the future or all the efforts were doomed to failure and Europe will reamain technological dependance on China and US.

The new Commission´s President also declares in her political programe the intention to continue with Union´s digital regulatory tradition, where Europe has excelled and contributed to leash the American laissez-faire approach. It's courageous her proposal for an AI regulation within her first 100 days in office, which will certainly face criticism from an industry that is calling for a wait-and-see regulatory approach to the matter. The promise of a new Digital Services Act is diffuse, but it is out of discussion the need go deeper in the regulation of digital platforms. There are hopeful these ideas as a sign of the purpose to maitain the goal of the development of a Digital Single Market.

On Cybersecurity, it may looks short that only the idea of the creation of a joint Cyber Unit is included among the ideas for the future digital policies, although it´s highly needed because the landscape of cybersecurity units and agencies has grown in the past without an aim. However, this renewal of the governance is complemented with her statement in favour to reinforce the European Union response and resilience to hybrid threats which is included among the ideas for building a "Stronger Europe in the world", another of the six headline ambitions for Europe proposed by the new President.

Finally, Ursula´s idea of making Europe fit to the digital age includes the commitment to create the digital capacities and skills base through a Digital Education Plan. The prioritisation of digital inclusiveness for individuals is complemented with the promise to support of the SMEs role as large digital innovators by reducing red tape and improving their access to the market, which is part of her idea of "An economy that works for people", another six Europe´s headline ambitions.

To conclude, it looks that the European digital vision new European Commission's President based on building-up digital sovereignty for Europe based on the completion of the Digital Single Market, the reinforcement of Cybersecurity and bridging the digital divides.  Definitively, it may be a good base for building "A Europe fit for the digital age" , although once the music is written the lyrics are needed to compose a good music piece, as well as the election of the right European Commissioner to perform it.

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