EU’s Digital Strategy: Priorities and Challenges

The European Commission has published several documents on the EU’s digital strategy. These documents detail a set of norms that together constitute the information policy of the European Union. 

According to the strategy, the priorities of the EU information policy are the following: economic development, guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities for individuals in the information space, and an emphasis on the regulation of the use of digital data and the development of artificial intelligence. 

Thus, the policy of the European Union aims to consolidate the information resources of its member countries. In general, this corresponds to a global trend towards the fragmentation and sovereignty of cyberspace. However, the case of the EU has unique specifics. In addition to the national level, digital sovereignty has another dimension – the regional one. Obviously, this trend will have an impact on global IT giants, especially the American ones. 

According to reports, Brussels has consulted with the representatives of major IT companies. None of them saw any major immediate changes after the publication of the strategy. However, representatives who participated in the consultations at the development stage warned that some of its provisions could negatively affect the innovation process. It is worth noting that the strategy recognises the priority of economic development in the conditions of the digital economy and the development of a pan-European digital market. 

Apparently, the EU intends to position itself as a serious player in the global digital market, where the United States has dominated for a long time, and Europe has acted mainly as a consumer. Much attention in the strategy was paid to the issues of state regulation, interaction between the public and private sectors, as well as international cooperation. In the context of international cooperation, special attention was paid to relations with the United States of America, where in recent years there has also been an increase of state control over the information sphere. In particular, the authors of the strategy expressed particular concern about measures taken by the United States, such as the 2018 CLOUD ACT. The law authorises the Federal Bureau of Investigation to access the personal data of foreign users of American IT giants’ platforms. Obviously, the legislation violates European law regarding national sovereignty in cyberspace, in particular the GDPR (on the regulation of personal data, previously adopted in Europe). The strategy adopted in February 2020 is, to some extent, a response to the US move. 

The strategy also aims to set priorities in the development of artificial intelligence. Given that this area is currently developing incredibly rapidly, and is an unpredictable and potentially dangerous technology, the authorities of the European Union have decided to establish measures to regulate it with proactive measures. It is argued that the use of data (including Big data technologies) is widespread in machine learning and artificial intelligence. On the one hand, the strategy offers a certain balance between state guarantees for the preservation of personal data and the development of artificial intelligence systems on the other.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.