Post-EU-election: our digital road map for strengthening Europe’s digital sovereignty and geo-political competitiveness.
Disappointed with how Europe reacted so far to the digital transformation process and highly concerned about the pace of how other regions implement digital reform policies, we have used the European election break to talk to stakeholders about what is missing in Europe. The feedback of our conversations with citizens, schools, universities, NGOs, consumer organisations, churches, start-ups and SMEs, global companies, business associations, law enforcement agencies, European Institutions as well as International Organisations was very coherent: Europe does not do enough, flatters itself with former achievements and believes in its ability to maintain the status quo. As a result, we are losing more and more ground towards other countries that take the digital transformation process much more serious and advance with bold and decisive actions.
“Europe's response to the digital challenges has so far been a wide range of incoherent, fragmented interim solutions following lengthy decision-making processes. Not only will this approach prevent us from ever catching up with a rapidly changing technological environment – it may also give our citizens the impression that the European political class has lost control – a perception that could ultimately result in a significant loss of trust in our democratic system!”
Feeling reinforced in our concerns, we wrote down our own thoughts and put them together with all the external feedback we have received over the last months. The result is a 15-page long document: our manifesto for Europe’s digital sovereignty and geo-political competitiveness.
What are we talking about?
Our digital manifesto calls upon the European Institutions and Member States to start a new political chapter after the 2019 European elections by radically changing the digital policy as well as accelerating our slow legislative procedures. In order to accomplish that, we have developed various but at the same time very concrete policy proposals for topics from "digital geopolitics" over "cyber defense" to "media and culture". All those proposals are listed in subcategories, which are again categorized under six overarching topics: (A) Politics, (B) Security, (C) Competition, (D) Economy, (E) Data and (F) Society.
The key components of our digital agenda for Europe are:
Europe needs to become digital sovereign by pursuing a European Way of digitization based on strategic investments and a geopolitical mindset.
Europe needs to complete the Digital Single Market by rethinking its competition policy, keep harmonizing its rules and improving our digital infrastructure.
Europe needs to change its political processes by establishing more effective and faster legislative procedures as well as better institutional safeguards.
Europe needs to ensure that our citizens can fully exploit the advantages of digitization by increasing their access to digital tools / services and by improving their digital skills.
What was our impact so far?
We went public at the DLD Munich 20 - a global digital conference - that took place between 18 - 20 January 2020 in Munich. At one of the major panels on Saturday the 18th of January, MEP Voss issued for the first time the warning that Europe could become a 'digital colony' if we are not radically change our digital policy. The media feedback was immense so that even the 20h00 ARD Tagesschau (Germany's prime time news show) showed his performance, followed by numerous newspaper articles.
“Voss warns that Europe must not become a 'digital colony' of the USA or China.”
On Monday, 20 January our digital manifesto was finally released, prolonging the political debate that was initiated by MEP Voss appearance at DLD Munich 20. Apart from many public appearances at other digital conferences and events, we also met the new Commissioners, numerous MEPs as well as with political leaders in Member States. While the political momentum was clearly on our side, we were concerned that our warning fizzles out soon ... at least when the next news cycle would start. Although four months later, we still see many of our ideas popping up in other position papers and even in new legislative proposals by the Commission or in Member States, we never stopped pushing. It is indeed our main goal for this political term (2019-2024) to fight every day for the complete implementation of our digital road map presented in our manifesto.
The next four years will decide over Europe's (digital) future and we all need to work together if we want to initiate the necessary change. Below, you can find our digital manifesto. If you have any comments or are convinced that something is missing, please do not hesitate to write us ... nothing is perfect ... which is why this document is constantly evolving and all help is highly appreciated.