The European Commission’s Digital Compass presents a set of digital principles designed to create an inter-country framework for digital development
Back in September 2020, President of the European Commission, Ursula on der Leyen spoke in her State of the Union address about the desire to make the coming decade a digital one, seeking to take a unified approach to technology to ensure digital sovereignty and improve the continent’s digital experience.
Now, the Commission has proposed a Digital Compass, a comprehensive framework through which to collaborative move towards a digital future.
The Digital Compass sets out four principle goals to be achieved by the European Union by 2030.
1) Digitally skilled citizens and highly skilled digital professionals. By 2030, at least 80% of all adults should have basic digital skills, and there should be 20 million employed ICT specialists in the EU. Furthermore, more women should take up such jobs.
2) Secure, performant and sustainable digital infrastructures. By 2030, all EU households should have gigabit connectivity and all populated areas should be covered by 5G; the production of cutting-edge and sustainable semiconductors in Europe should be 20% of world production; 10,000 climate neutral highly secure edge nodes should be deployed in the EU; and Europe should have its first quantum computer.
3) Digital transformation of businesse. By 2030, three out of four companies should use cloud computing services, big data and AI; more than 90% SMEs should reach at least basic level of digital intensity; and the number of EU unicorns (private startups with a value greater than $1 billion) should double.
4) Digitalisation of public services. By 2030, all key public services should be available online; all citizens will have access to their e-medical records; and 80% citizens should use an eID solution.
If agreed by the European Parliament and the Council, all of these milestones would become enshrined in law for all EU member states.
The framework also focusses on launching numerous cross-border projects, combining EU funding with that of national governments and private investors. For now it is unclear exactly what these international digital projects may be, but they potentially include the creation of pan-European interconnected data processing infrastructure, the design and deployment of the next generation of low power trusted processors, and connected public administrations.
Finally, it will feature a renewed focus on digital rights throughout the Union, including access to high quality connectivity, digital education, public services, and non-discriminatory online services.
“Europe has a lifetime opportunity to build back better. With the new multi-annual budget and the Recovery and Resilience Facility, we have mobilised unprecedented resources to invest in the digital transition. The pandemic has exposed how crucial digital technologies and skills are to work, study and engage – and where we need to get better,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “We must now make this Europe’s Digital Decade so that all citizens and businesses can access the very best the digital world can offer. Today’s Digital Compass gives us a clear view of how to get there.”
To track the progress of countries towards these Digital Compass goals, a traffic light system will be implemented alongside annual reporting based on an enhanced Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) system.
The proposed Digital Compass will need to be formally developed and presented, with the objective of agreeing a joint declaration by the end of 2021.
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