Business News 

Shaping Europe’s Digital Future

15th July 2020 

Claude Calleja, Executive at eSkills Malta Foundation, argues that Europe’s digital transformation must protect and strengthen citizens

The EU Digital Strategy sets out the path Europe needs to take to go its own way, with a digital Europe that reflects the best of Europe. It defines how technology will be used to achieve climate neutrality objectives and the role of the digital economy in the future.

Among other things, the EU plans to publish the first version of the EU Digital Strategy and the European Data Strategy in 2021 (third quarter 2020). The European data strategy is the result of cooperation between the Commission and the EU Member States.

The Commission has concluded that digital transformation must work across the EU, while recognising that everyone must participate in it in order to be successful, including citizens, businesses, civil society and the public sector.

For their part, the major commercial digital players must assume their responsibilities and give Europeans access to the data they collect. Overall, this is an important step towards making Europe a major digital player in the global economy.

Many European countries including Malta are certain to benefit from this effort. In line with the EU Digital Strategy, the eSkills Malta Foundation launched the National eSkills Strategy in 2019 which compliments the Digital Malta Strategy launched in 2014. The vision is for “a digitally-enabled country empowering its people, communities and entrepreneurs through the intelligent and universal use of ICT”. It’s about making citizens' lives better, improving community services and helping enterprises to flourish and become more competitive through ICT.

The point is that Europe's digital transformation must protect and strengthen citizens, businesses and society as a whole. It must not be bound to the profit of the few for the insights and opportunities of the many. Europe will continue to preserve its open, democratic and sustainable society, and digital tools can support this principle.

Having said that, Europe needs to become a world leader in developing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain systems that can be used and applied safely. Working closely with international partners, Europeans must develop and pursue the vision of becoming a value-based digital economy while remaining an open, rules-based market.

The Digital Services Act was announced in Mrs von der Leyen's programme and reinforces the scope of technology that works for people. Unsurprisingly, the law, originally intended to replace the central e-commerce directive, should broaden the scope of the internal market, a task that will undoubtedly create a number of new challenges for the European Commission and its member states. The Commission will present the Digital Services Act later this year with a number of proposals, including the creation of a single regulatory framework for companies that have access to the internal market, strengthening responsibility for online platforms and the protection of fundamental rights.

A revision of eIDAS (an EU regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the European Single Market) rules is being proposed to allow for a more secure electronic identity that gives people control over the data they share online.

The fight for our digital future requires that Malta, together with its European partners, ensures that economic growth and innovation are reconciled with industrial protection and privacy. The continent has a responsibility to find ways of facilitating access without sacrificing the public interest.

This article was prepared by researching various publicly available content online.


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Shaping Europe’s Digital Future