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Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the informal meeting will not take place physically in Baden-Baden, as originally planned, but rather as a virtual meeting. The informal meeting will be chaired by German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age”, and Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, have also been invited to the meeting.

Peter Altmaier, Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy: 

We need momentum for growth in the EU if we are to leave this crisis behind us. To achieve this, we must press ahead with the digital transformation and strengthen Europe’s digital sovereignty in order to maintain our competitiveness and harness the full potential for innovation that is offered by the European Single Market. This also means that we need good and efficient gigabit infrastructure and a clear framework. For this reason, we will be discussing two fields for which the European Commission has announced legislative proposals. These pertain to the framework for data use and for artificial intelligence. We will also discuss the design for an internal market in digital services.

Participants will exchange views on two important current topics related to digitalisation in the European Union: the data economy and the internal digital services market.

Artificial intelligence and data economy

The first aim is to exchange views on how to effectively improve the conditions for data use and data innovation in the European Union and how to enforce European data protection standards beyond the boundaries of the Single Market. In addition, the discussion is to include the question of the fundamental principles on which a future European framework for artificial intelligence should be based, especially in the light of announced legislative acts at European level. In its Communication titled “A European strategy for data” in February 2020, the European Commission announced it would submit a proposal for legislation for a regulatory framework for the governance of common European data spaces and a proposal for a legal act on data. Furthermore, a proposal for legislation on artificial intelligence is to be submitted by the European Commission in the first quarter of 2021.

European rules on digital services

The second focus of the meeting will be on the internal market for digital services. The aim is to exchange views on how a modern European legal framework for digital services should look. The discussion is to include the question of how small and medium-sized providers in particular can participate in the ecosystem of online platforms in a fair manner and how at the same time the potential for innovation and innovative capacity can be strengthened. The discussion of these questions will also take place in the light of an announced measure at European level. In February 2020, the European Commission announced with its Communication “Shaping Europe’s digital future” that it would submit a legislative package on digital services, which is expected by the end of this year.

During the meeting, the representatives of the EU member states will also be given the opportunity to sign the European Cloud Federation Joint Declaration to establish a European network of cloud infrastructures.

Greeting from German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier before the Informal Videoconference of Telecommunications and Digital Policy Ministers