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Digital Agenda: Overview

European Data Strategy

he European data strategy aims to make the EU a leader in a data-driven society. Creating a single market for data will allow it to flow freely within the EU and across sectors for the benefit of businesses, researchers and public administrations. People, businesses and organisations should be empowered to make better decisions based on insights from non-personal data, which should be available to all.

Access to data and the ability to use it are essential for innovation and growth. Data-driven innovation can bring major and concrete benefits, such as:

  • personalised medicine
  • improved mobility
  • better policymaking
  • upgrading public services

The success of Europe’s digital transformation over the next five years will depend on establishing effective frameworks to ensure trustworthy technologies, and to give businesses the confidence and means to digitise.

The Data Strategy and the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence are the first pillars of the new digital strategy of the Commission. They all focus on the need to put people first in developing technology, as well as on the need to defend and promote European values and rights in how we design, make and deploy technology in the real economy.

Data driven applications will benefit citizens and businesses in many ways. They can:

  • improve health care
  • create safer and cleaner transport systems
  • generate new products and services
  • reduce the costs of public services
  • improve sustainability and energy efficiency

The Commission has proposed a Regulation on European data governance as part of its data strategy. This new Regulation will play a vital role in ensuring the EU’s leadership in the global data economy.

© European Commission, 2020

The Strategy

This European data strategy serves to realise the vision for a genuine single market for data and tackles the problems identified through policy measures and funding, building on what has already been achieved in the last few years. Each of the new legislative measures will be prepared and assessed in full compliance with the Better Regulation principles.

 

The actions are based on four pillars:

  • A cross-sectoral governance framework for data access and use by way of:
  1. Proposing a legislative framework for the governance of common European data spaces, in Q4 2020
  2. Adopt an implementing act on high-value data-sets, in Q1 2021
  3. Propose, as appropriate, a Data Act, in 2021
  4. Analysis of the importance of data in the digital economy (e.g. through the Observatory of the Online Platform Economy), and review of the existing policy framework in the context of the Digital Services Act package (Q4 2020)
  • Enablers: Investments in data and strengthening Europe’s capabilities and infrastructures for hosting, processing and using data, interoperability by:
  1.  Investing in a High Impact project on European data spaces, encompassing data sharing architectures (including standards for data sharing, best practices, tools) and governance mechanisms, as well as the European federation of energy-efficient and trustworthy cloud infrastructures and related services, with a view to facilitating combined investments of €4-6 billion, of which the Commission could aim at investing €2 billion. First implementation phase foreseen for 2022;
  2. Sign Memoranda of Understanding with Member States on cloud federation, Q3 2020
  3. Launch a European cloud services marketplace, integrating the full stack of cloud service offering, Q4 2022
  4. Create an EU (self-)regulatory cloud rulebook, Q2 2022
  • Competences: Empowering individuals, investing in skills and in SMEs
  1.   Explore enhancing the portability right for individuals under Article 20 of the GDPR giving them more control over who can access and use machine-generated data (possibly as part of the Data Act in 2021).
  • Common European data spaces in strategic sectors and domains of public interest
European data governance

A new way of European data governance, which is fully in line with EU values and principles, will bring significant benefits to EU citizens and companies.

As a key pillar of the Data Strategy, this new way of data governance will increase trust in data sharing, strengthen mechanisms to increase data availability and overcome technical obstacles to the reuse of data.

It will also support the set-up and development of common European data spaces in strategic domains, involving both private and public players, such as: health, environment, energy, agriculture, mobility, finance, manufacturing, public administration and skills.

© European Commission, 2020

Single market for data

The EU will create a single market for data where

  • data can flow within the EU and across sectors, for the benefit of all
  • European rules, in particular privacy and data protection, as well as competition law, are fully respected
  • the rules for access and use of data are fair, practical and clear

The EU will become an attractive, secure and dynamic data economy by

  • setting clear and fair rules on access and re-use of data
  • investing in next generation tools and infrastructures to store and process data
  • joining forces in European cloud capacity
  • pooling European data in key sectors, with common and interoperable data spaces
  • giving users rights, tools and skills to stay in full control of their data
Projected Figures for Data in 2025

© European Commission, 2021

An open but proactive international approach

 

Key Documents - European Data Strategy

European Industrial Strategy

Europe is embarking on a transition towards climate neutrality (also see Green Deal InfoGuide) and digital leadership. The European industrial strategy aims to ensure that European industry can lead the way as we enter this new age by facilitating its transformation to a sustainable, digital and competitive industry. The Commission will also ensure that the Single Market's integration and functioning is improved to drive growth in the manufacturing and service industries and strengthen SMEs' innovation, reduce their barriers to trade and improve their access to finance.

© European Union, 2020

Transforming European Industry

The Commission is taking action based on three drivers for industrial transformation which are to maintain Europe's industrial global competitiveness, reach climate-neutrality by 2050, and make Europe fit for the digital age. According to the Commissions Communication on 'A New Industrial Strategy for Europe' (COM/2020/102 final), these three drivers will guide the strategy that will either renew or expand existing measures to boost European industry or introduce new ways to strengthen it. The strategy's fundamentals for European industrial transformation are outlined below.

 

For more details on Europe's Industrial Strategy visit our Sustainable Industry page in the Green Deal Info Guide

 

© European Commission, 2020

The single market

The single market gives EU businesses a large domestic market, stimulating trade and competition, and improving efficiency. Its better integration and functioning could generate further growth in many areas. Based on the Commission's Long term action plan for better implementation and enforcement of single market rules (COM/2020/94 final), several actions will be taken in five different areas to address the various shortfalls of the single market, which are outline below.

Increasing knowledge and awareness of single market rules to the benefit of national authorities and courts, citizens and businesses.

  • Programme to provide more specific guidance tools for national authorities which will include measures such as updating the Handbook on the implementation of the Services Directive and the The ‘Blue Guide’ on the implementation of EU products rules 2016 (C/2016/1958).
  • Improve access to information on rules and requirements for users through the Single Digital Gateway (Regulation (EU) 2018/1724), to reduce the cases of non-conformity and non-compliance, as well as the EU Product Contact Points, part of the Good Regulation Package (Regulation (EU) 2019/515), which will provide better and faster information to businesses about the rules that apply to their products.
  • Online platforms facilitating compliance of products to ensure no illegal and unsafe products are placed on the EU market. The Digital Services Act (COM/2020/825 final) and the revised General Product Safety Directive (Directive 2001/95/EC) will ensure the safety and legality of products online.

Improving the transposition, implementation and application of EU rules to avoid unwanted creation of barriers and obstacles that hinder the smooth functioning of the single market.

  • Structured dialogue for better transposition of single market directives by improving the transposition process by the use of dynamic virtual concordance tables, which will keep track of national laws.
  • Implementation partnership for singe market Regulations in order to improve the implementation of provisions by carrying out implementation workshops to assist Member States in this process.

Making the best use of preventive mechanisms to avoid  national measures which are contrary to EU law which will help maintain a level playing field for citizens and businesses in the single market.

  • Improving ex-ante (forecasted) assessments of restrictive regulation under the Proportionality Test Directive (Directive (EU) 2018/958) in order to prevent the creation of new restrictions in national regulations.
  • Streamlining the operation of the single market Transparency Directive (Directive (EU) 2015/1535)
  • Preventing new barriers to providing services in the single market by adopting the legislative proposal for a new Services Notification Directive (COM/2016/0821 final) as well as ensuring Member States comply with existing notification obligations to identify and eliminate new potential regulatory barriers.
  • Unlocking the full potential of the notification mechanism under the e-commerce Directive (Directive 2000/31/EC) to improve the cooperation between Member States and the tools under the notification mechanism.

Detecting non-compliance inside the Single Market and at the external borders to preserve the smooth functioning of the single market by improving the tools of the Commission and Member States for detection, investigation and information sharing.

  • Rationalising single market IT systems and setting-up a platform for online enforcement (e-enforcement lab) by establishing a single European information entry point and ensure the Internal Market Information system become the default tool for administrative cooperation.
  • Strengthening the fight against counterfeit and illegal products by expanding the mandate of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
  • Strengthening enforcement in the agri-food chain to ensure the safety, sustainability and free movement of food in the internal market by supporting Member States through the Better Training for Safer Food programme aimed at public administration staff.
  • Development of labelling and traceability systems by promoting the use of digital tools which allow more targeted controls with the EU and outside its external borders, as well as developing new customs equipment to read encoded information through the funding made available by the Integrated Border Management Fund 2021-27 (COM/2018/473 final)

Strengthening enforcement on the ground 

  • EU Product Compliance Network will be set up to reduce the number of non-compliant products by strengthening the coordination of surveillance authorities in Member States, provided for in Regulation 2019/1020.
  • Making SOLVIT  the default tool for Single Market dispute resolution to better deal with cross border issues caused by breach of EU law by public authorities.

Improving handling of infringement cases by utilising improved working arrangements, better use of all available administrative tools and increase cooperation to speed up and streamline the process to bring infringements to an end.

  • Better prioritisation of enforcement by adopting an annual Single Market Enforcement Strategic Report to identify specific areas of concern and priorities for enforcement.
  • Clarity and consistency in case handling to increase the confidence in the enforcement system.
  • Better use the EU Pilot system which is useful for obtaining information in the phase of dialogue with Member States at the pre-infringement stage.

 

© European Commission, 2020

 

Competition policy is a cornerstone of the single market. It is crucial that EU competition rules are kept fit for a changing world so that they

  • make companies more competitive
  • contribute to a level playing field
  • drive innovation
  • give consumers more choice
Unleashing the potential of SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises are essential to Europe’s competitiveness and prosperity. The EU's SME Strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe (COM/2020/103 final) puts forwards actions based on the following three pillars:

Capacity-building and support for the transition to sustainability and digitalisation

  • Up to 240 Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) will be created with the ambition of delivering user-friendly and targeted advice on sustainability and digitalisation.
  • Fair access to data for companies, especially SMEs, through the establishment of common European data spaces for trusted and secure sharing of data, as announced in the European Strategy for Data (COM/2020/66 final).
  • Make the Intellectual Property (IP) system more effective for SMEs through the Intellectual Property Action Plan (COM/2020/760 final) by simplifying IP registration procedures, improving access to strategic IP advice and facilitating the use of IP as a lever to gain access to finance.

Reducing regulatory burden and improving market access

  • Lifting the barriers through partnerships and policy experimentation 

 

© European Commission, 2020

Key Documents - European Industrial Strategy

Digital Markets Act

Some large online platforms act as "gatekeepers" in digital markets. The Digital Markets Act aims to ensure that these platforms behave in a fair way online. Together with the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act is one of the centrepieces of the European digital strategy.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) establishes a set of narrowly defined objective criteria for qualifying a large online platform as a so-called “gatekeeper”. This allows the DMA to remain well targeted to the problem that it aims to tackle as regards large, systemic online platforms and benefit users, businesses, as well as platforms.

These criteria will be met if a company:

  • has a strong economic position, significant impact on the internal market and is active in multiple EU countries
  • has a strong intermediation position, meaning that it links a large user base to a large number of businesses
  • has (or is about to have) an entrenched and durable position in the market, meaning that it is stable over time
What does this mean for gatekeepers?

The new rules will establish obligations for gatekeepers, “do’s” and “don’ts” they must comply with in their daily operations.

© European Commission, 2020

Key Documents - Digital Markets Act

Digital Services Act

For the first time a common set of rules on intermediaries' obligations and accountability across the single market will open up new opportunities to provide digital services across borders, while ensuring a high level of protection to all users, no matter where they live in the EU.

The new rules are proportionate, foster innovation, growth and competitiveness, and facilitate the scaling up of smaller platforms, SMEs and start-ups. The responsibilities of users, platforms, and public authorities are rebalanced according to European values, placing citizens at the centre. The rules

  • Better protect consumers and their fundamental rights online
  • Establish a powerful transparency and a clear accountability framework for online platforms
  • Foster innovation, growth and competitiveness within the single market

© European Commission, 2020

What providers are covered?

The Digital Services Act includes rules for online intermediary services, which millions of Europeans use every day. The obligations of different online players match their role, size and impact in the online ecosystem.

  • Intermediary services offering network infrastructure: Internet access providers, domain name registrars, including also:
  • Hosting services such as cloud and webhosting services, including also:
  • Online platforms bringing together sellers and consumers such as online marketplaces, app stores, collaborative economy platforms and social media platforms.  
  • Very large online platforms pose particular risks in the dissemination of illegal content and societal harms. Specific rules are foreseen for platforms reaching more than 10% of 450 million consumers in Europe.

All online intermediaries offering their services in the single market, whether they are established in the EU or outside, will have to comply with the new rules. Micro and small companies will have obligations proportionate to their ability and size while ensuring they remain accountable.

What is the impact of new obligations?

The Digital Services Act significantly improves the mechanisms for the removal of illegal content and for the effective protection of users’ fundamental rights online, including the freedom of speech. It also creates a stronger public oversight of online platforms, in particular for platforms that reach more than 10% of the EU’s population.

This means concretely:

  • measures to counter illegal goods, services or content online, such as a mechanism for users to flag such content and for platforms to cooperate with “trusted flaggers”
  • new obligations on traceability of business users in online market places, to help identify sellers of illegal goods.
  • effective safeguards for users, including the possibility to challenge platforms’ content moderation decisions
  • transparency measures for online platforms on a variety of issues, including on the algorithms used for recommendations
  • obligations for very large platforms to prevent the misuse of their systems by taking risk-based action and by independent audits of their risk management systems
  • access for researchers to key data of the largest platforms, in order to understand how online risks evolve
  • oversight structure to address the complexity of the online space: EU countries will have the primary role, supported by a new European Board for Digital Services; for very large platforms, enhanced supervision and enforcement by the Commission
Key Documents - Digital Services Act

Connectivity

Advanced connectivity is the fundamental building block of the digital transformation and the enabler of a sustainable future. Fixed and wireless networks contribute significantly to providing affordable and accessible services and bridging the digital divide.

© European Commission, 2020

Benefits & Goals

Enhanced connectivity will support more connections and they will be faster and more reliable. It will empower people and businesses with better, faster and more widespread internet coverage. Citizens will have access to more efficient digital services, consumers will enjoy more choices and available information, and businesses will explore new opportunities through innovative business models, remote collaborations and digital tools.