Digital Europe - independent, inclusive and innovative

The objectives of Germany's Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the field of digitalisation Digital Europe - independent, inclusive and innovative

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalisation in many areas at a breath-taking pace. Home office has become part of our everyday life, while schools are finding new ways of delivering online learning and teaching. Digitalisation has its dangers – but it also opens up new opportunities and new ways forward. Here is an overview of the objectives of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the digital sector.

Europe, made up of zeros and ones

Europe is to become more independent in the field of digitalisation - that is one of Germany's goals for its Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Photo: mauritius images/Pitopia

Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union is addressing digitalisation in the following four priority areas with very specific measures. We are also learning from our experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Europa is to gain more digital sovereignty

This presupposes a well-developed digital infrastructure which is resilient, sustainable and democratic. The idea is to put in place a digital economic area that meets these criteria. This is to help Europe remain competitive and become more independent of the USA and China, which currently dominate the technology sector. Alongside research in the field of artificial intelligence, high performance computers and blockchain technology, a good digital network is crucially important. The aim is to make Europe a gigabyte society.

Developing broadband and 5G to network society and industry – The European Commission wants to roll out broadband and 5G technology. This will ensure fast and reliable internet connections that are important for a digitally interconnected economy. The European Parliament estimates that this can generate an additional income of 176.6 billion euros per annum.

2. Europe is to fight cybercrime

The days when the digital world was separate from our everyday lives have gone. Digitalisation is reaching more and more parts of the life of society, opening up a wide range of opportunities. But there is also the risk that problems might move online. Crime is also found in the digital world, and this impacts on the global economy and politics. Power and influence are exercised at international level with the help of digital technologies. Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU would like to draw up a response.

International cooperation against cybercrime – Germany would like to take a more robust approach to tackling cybercrime. For this, standards are needed for cyber space, which the international community needs to embrace. The United Nations has forums to this end, in which the European Union is actively involved. These standards are to strengthen the response to malicious cyber activities.

3. Europe is to ensure that data can be used securely

Data are the heart of the digital economy and society. A broad information basis is indispensable to make processes efficient. But, at the same time, extensive data collection is a threat to the cohesion of society. It must be ensured that privacy and consumers are protected in a digital setting. This is why Germany would like to develop a common data policy within the framework of its Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Health data: communicating patient data security and directly throughout Europe - It is particularly important to agree on shared data standards in the health sector, where the protection of private data is paramount. Sharing patient information can, however, improve the quality of treatment. To achieve this balance, a European space for health data should be put in place, governed by standardised regulations under which health data can be shared.

4. Europe is to be digital and closer to citizens

As digitalisation becomes more common in the everyday life of citizens, it is important that they all have the opportunity to shape digitalisation as they see fit. For this, however, people need to know about digitalisation, participation and civil rights in the digital sphere. Germany’s Presidency would like to reinforce this knowledge. This should boost acceptance of digital transformation.

Transferring labour rights to the digital world – Social welfare is at a high level within the European Union compared with other countries worldwide. To give one example: digitalisation makes it possible to work from home, but can also blur the distinction between work and home. The German Presidency of the Council of the European Union has set itself the goal of transposing social welfare rights and standards and working conditions into the digital age.