miércoles, 20 de noviembre de 2019

Digital sovereignty vs digital naivety: A European maze

The digitalisation of Europe, under the motto "A Europe fit for the digital age", is one of the six political priorities of the elected European Commission president, Ursula Von Leyden. Among the measures that are planned to be deployed to achieve this goal is working towards Europe´s technological sovereignty. European leaders has discovered full of panic that our digital dependency from US and China may cronified and make Europe definitively an economic colony of these countries.

The designated Vice President, Margrethe Vestager, has also bet on Europe´s digital autonomy during her hearings. Among her written answers to the MEPs, she has spoken about the need for Europe to support the development of the key value chains that contribute to the digital sovereignty.

Nevertheless, there is no sign yet what this words and goals of building Europe's digital sovereignty mean. Furthermore, there are not to many rumours of what are the ideas of European Commission services on the issue. Apart of building some kind of committee to select the technologies that deserve special attention (and investment) from Europe, no structural or regulatory measures (if possible) has been commented.

But what is worrisome, is the apparent contradiction between the digital sovereignty goal and the traditional European economy openness ideology. For instance, the recent report on EU coordinated risk assessment of 5G networks security has not taken any preference for European manufactures such as Ericsson or Nokia, but an agnostic view on cybersecurity with the identification of threats based on a thorough evidence-based analysis. It is is difficult to call this approach a bet for building the European champions needed for digital sovereignty.

The European approach to 5G cybersecurity is not the only contradiction with working towards European digital sovereignty, which would be difficult to achieve without a certain degree of protectionism. The European regulation on platforms or data personal protection do not establish any kind of advantage to European players. As a general rule, the European way towards digital transformation has been what we can call  "digital naivety", with equal rule to all players whatever their origin and size.

Without taking sides for "digital sovereignty" or for "digital naivety", the contradiction between both is crystal clear. The question is if Europe would be able to find its way out of this maze or if the seed for new delays in its digital development has been laid.

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