The strategy, which includes a set of quantitative targets, seeks to define a set of rights and principles for Europeans that will “empower businesses and people in a human-centered, sustainable, and more prosperous digital future.”
Our observatory tracks the various elements of the strategy as it evolves with a focus on the discussions about the development of the underlying rights and principles for a European Digital Public Space.
Today, together with more than 40 civil society organizations, we released a Statement on Democratic Digital Infrastructure. In the statement, we call on the EU and Member States to support alternatives to commercial digital infrastructure and promote interoperable, transparent digital spaces that respect privacy, democratic governance, and net neutrality by creating a European Public Digital Infrastructure Fund.
Open Future submitted a response concerning the European Commission's call for evidence on "An EU initiative on virtual worlds: a head start towards the next technological transition". In the submission, we showed why policymakers should consider virtual worlds as Digital Public Spaces where the public interest takes precedence over corporate objectives.
This policy brief contributes to the discussion about the importance of maintaining an open internet. It posits that the struggle to maintain an unfettered exchange of information online is taking place not just at the network level but also within the domain of internet platforms and in the space occupied by content and application providers.
The European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles for the Digital Decade is a good starting point for directing the EU Digital Strategy's emphasis toward societal goals, but an action plan to fulfill these promises is still lacking, says Zuzanna Warso.
The Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS) published a policy brief underpinning how a robust framework for B2G data sharing is a precondition for ensuring that public institutions and policymakers can fulfill their mandates.
This new report "Towards a sovereign digital infrastructure of Commons" published by the French Council presidency makes a powerful argument for putting digital commons at the heart of efforts to build sovereign digital infrastructures.
We have teamed up with a number of organizations working on building Digital Commons and published an op-ed encouraging French and European policy makers to put Digital Commons at the center of the EU’s digital strategy.
France is promoting a very specific approach to digital sovereignty by stressing the importance of the Digital Commons as one of its building blocks and declaring the intention to use its presidency to propose a European Initiative for Digital Commons.
Towards an EU Charter for Digital Rights: Open letter
A group of S&D MEPs working on digital policy files – Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Brando Benifei, Josianne Cutajar, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Iban Garcia del Blanco, Maria-Manuel Leitão-Marques, Christel Schaldemose, Paul Tang and Tiemo Wölken – sent a letter to the European Parliament, European Council and European Commission on the need to upscale the declaration into an EU Charter for Digital Rights in which they write:
The EU needs an updated social contract for the digital age. Its citizens need a digital economy based on rules and principles that are necessary for a free, inclusive and just digital society. Political declarations setting guidelines are important. Yet they fall short of actual digital rights to fight and stand for. A proper Charter outlining these rights would guide the EU’s legislative work as the digital transformation progresses.
The Declaration on European Digital Rights and Principles proposed by the Commission does not do enough for shaping the European online ecosystem as a digital public space, and not just a market. The "Digital Public Space" principle should be expanded upon to secure a stronger focus on societal objectives and collective rights.
This article is Open Future's contribution to Building a European Digital Public Space - Strategies for taking back control from Big Tech platforms, a book edited by Aleksander Baratsits and Published by iRights Media in November 2021
In order to shape a European digital space that represents our democratic values, that is aligned with the realities of the green transition and that provides space for all to use digital technologies to satisfy their needs, this digital space must be understood to be more than a marketplace - an increasingly important part of our society as a whole
Open Future feedback to the Digital Compass policy program consultation
We submitted our feedback to the Commission. In our response, we highlight a lack of civil society and not-for-profit sectors in the roadmap document, which might ultimately undermine the success of the Commission’s initiative. In addition, we argue that the four cardinal points established by the Digital Compass need to allow the measurement of more complex goals related to achieving the twin transition and related goals of sustainability and societal well-being. In particular, the enhanced DESI should include indicators for measuring adherence to the Digital Principles.
Open Future feedback to EU digital principles consultation
We submit our input to the public consultation on European digital principles. We express support for the Commission’s initiative to include a set of digital principles as a key part of the European digital strategy. However, we observe a lack of reference to the European digital society as the proposal is still largely framed in market terms. In this light, we propose the “Vision for a Shared Digital Europe” policy framework which lays the foundation for a more equitable and democratic digital environment, where basic liberties and rights are protected, where strong public institutions function in the public interest, and where people have a say in how their digital environment functions. At the heart of this vision are four policy principles: Enable Self-Determination, Cultivate the Commons, Decentralize Infrastructure and Empower Public Institutions. These principles can contribute to creating a European digital space that embodies our values: strong public institutions, democratic governance, sovereignty of communities and people, diversity of cultures, and equality and justice.
Andrea Renda – Senior Research Fellow and Head of Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation & Digital Economy at the Center of European Policy Studies (CEPS) – published an analysis of the European Commission’s plans to make the digital economy fit for Europe. He describes how the Digital Compass plays a crucial role in achieving Europe’s digital sovereignty but needs various adjustments. These include a more nuanced approach to connectivity since 5G technologies seem to be cost-effective only in a subset of use cases, more efforts in the development of “Personal Information Management Systems”, and clearer rules for the governance of future data spaces. Finally, Renda argues for effective coherence between policy files to make the best out of enforcement provisions.
A first look at the 2030 Digital Compass: the European Commission presented its long term (10 year) strategy for shaping the digital transformation in Europe. In this post we take a first critical look at the Commission's ambitions.
Friends of Europe – a Brussels-based, pro-EU think tank – published a reaction to the Commission's communication. They argue an overall lack of ambition in the strategy, which appears to be vague and unattainable in terms of target reaching. In particular, the 20% microprocessor manufacturing target is described as unrealistic. They advocate for a change of approach where the Commission’s compass can be developed into an actual roadmap for the digital decade.
Open Future’s feedback to the roadmap consultation
We submit our feedback as part of the Commission’s the Roadmap for Communication on a Europe’s digital decade: 2030 digital targets for consultation. We present three high-level observations on the need to keep into account societal outcomes in the Commission’s strategy for the digital decade. Second, we emphasize the importance of incorporating public digital infrastructure at the center of the strategy in order to achieve digital sovereignty goals which reflect European rules and values. Finally, we highlight the need to include access rights in the proposed Charter of Digital principles.
Germany, Finland, Denmark and Estonia send a letter to Ursula von der Leyen stressing the importance of Europe's digital sovereignty. The letter concludes by stating:
The European Commission should develop an action plan for greater digital sovereignty on this basis, ideally as part of its initiative announced for March 2021 on Europe’s Digital Decade. In order to ensure that critical dependencies do not become entrenched, a set of immediate measures should be defined in this plan to enable the European Union to become digitally sovereign in critical areas. [...] Digital transformation is one of the greatest opportunities and challenges for Europe’s future, and it must be of help to people, our societies and our economy. As Europeans, we aspire to continue asserting our democratic values and rules in the digital era at home and abroad. At the same time, we want to participate in digital value-added, thus safeguarding future prosperity in the European Union and moving our societies into the digital age. This can only be achieved if we follow a coherent path towards digital sovereignty – self-determined and open.
European Council conclusions on the Digital Compass
As part of the conclusions of the special meeting on 1 and 2 October 2020, the European Council invited the Commission to present, by March 2021, a comprehensive Digital Compass which sets out the EUʼs concrete digital ambitions for 2030. The Compass should establish a monitoring system for European strategic digital capacities and capabilities, and outline the means and key milestones to achieve EU’s ambition.