The lesson from those experiences is clear: Europe must bolster its digital sovereignty to effectively respond to future challenges, guarantee livelihoods and ensure the security of its citizens.

Europe must rely on the strength of its broad research base and foster its growing digital infrastructure and economy, while making sure the continent’s core democratic values also apply in the digital age. In doing so, Europe can position itself as a leader in world-class, socially responsible and sustainable high-tech.

Digitalisation: Keeping Europe competitive

The Single Market is at the core of making Europe’s digital economy a world leader. In 2015, the Commission began an ambitious project to transpose the success of the EU’s Single Market into the digital realm. According to European Parliament figures, measures such as regulating e-commerce and increasing availability of broadband- and 5G-networks will generate an extra €176.6 billion in annual revenue when all measures in the Digital Single Market Strategy are fully realised.

That number, however, could stretch into the trillions if Europe continues to digitalise according to developments in artificial intelligence (AI), supercomputing and blockchain technology. With the new Strategy for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, the Commission has delivered its new European Digital Strategy for the next five years, together with its strategic plans for the European Data Strategy and the Whitebook on Artificial Intelligence. The overarching goal remains to develop Europe swiftly and successfully into a gigabit economy and society. We want to take up the ambitious objectives of this Strategy and push them forward.

Secure and sovereign, European-based, resilient and sustainable digital infrastructure is essential to this transformation. Creating this singularly European digital economic realm is key to keeping the EU competitive in a technological sphere dominated by the United States and China.

As such, Germany’s Presidency seeks to:

  • strengthen the EU’s digital economy through better liability and security requirements for the platform economy and digital service providers
  • deepen regulatory discussions on the ecological design and sustainable and socially responsible use of AI in the EU and the potential of such technologies, especially within the healthcare sector
  • advance discussions with member states on the effects of crises on broadband capabilities and network capacities as well as on initiatives like Gaia X, a data ecosystem connecting European cloud infrastructures
  • accelerate the deployment of gigabit networks, including 5G
  • promote the creation of a coherent EU-wide strategy to protect intellectual property that fosters innovation and creativity while safeguarding fair access to the Single Market
  • create a Digital Diplomacy Network between European foreign ministries that drives common European diplomacy in the digital age;
  • Harness digitalisation within the realm of European developmental cooperation to foster digital competencies in data-driven African markets in support of achieving the sustainable-development goals
  • Discuss and initiate appropriate measures concerning the linkage between digitalisation and sustainability

International order: Norms, values and law in cyberspace

Digital Technologies are increasingly becoming an arena of power projection and influence in the international sphere. The EU and its member states need to actively engage in the ongoing discussions on norms in cyberspace, especially in the relevant UN fora, such as the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) or the Governmental Group of Experts (GGE) and at the same time strengthen its capacity to react to malicious cyber activities.

The German Presidency therefore seeks to:

  • catalyse a common European position in the UN fora OEWG, GGE and in the ad-hoc expert committee on cybercrime
  • further develop the application of the EU cyber diplomacy toolbox including the EU cyber sanctions regime
  • develop a comprehensive framework of action for EU cyber diplomacy for the years to come

Data policy: Innovative, secure and sustainable

Data is the lifeblood of the digital economy. Effectively using this wealth of information can make key societal industries like healthcare, transportation and agriculture more efficient, sustainable and flexible. We are on our way to a data driven economy and society – but we will have to determine how we want this future to look like.

Harnessing data for societal good is a delicate balancing act: Consumer privacy and protection must be guaranteed in the digital realm just as in all other EU policy areas.