European Union’s Strategic Plan on Digital Connectivity04/10/2021
The European Union has released its strategic action plan for the digital decade. The goal is to strengthen its digital capacity and freedom to act, considering the scenario of hyper-connectivity and technological transformations.
This digital plan is in the context of the European Union’s strategic autonomy for 2040. It considers the trend towards the redistribution of global power, given the geopolitical and economic disputes between the United States and China. Faced with this perspective, the European Union seeks to assert its geostrategic position in light of the risks of this dispute for global leadership. In this way, the European Union seeks geostrategic alliances to counteract the United States and China. The digital action plan includes economic measures, technological commitments, social equity standards, educational commitments, environmental commitments, and regulatory frameworks.
Competitiveness is multidimensional and deepens interdependencies in the global multipolar order. Hence the need for appropriate measures to meet the new demands in the field of digital connectivity. There is a warning about the risks of large-scale disinformation by online tools and platforms and the risks of hybrid threats. Capacity building is sought in data management, artificial intelligence and technologies, and edge computing. It points out the exponential demand for semiconductors to prepare the next technology generations.
Given this context, the European Union wants to take the first step regarding its global positioning in setting technological standards for artificial intelligence, blockchain, quantum computing, cybersecurity, and sensitive data, among others. It also wants to build resilience for the financial systems. Access to space is sought to mitigate risks of conflict, internal instability, and disruption of critical infrastructure. The plan also includes more assertive actions to contain coercive actions or extraterritorial sanctions imposed by countries outside the EU. In the connectivity agenda, strategic partnerships are wanted. The United States, through the BUILD Act and Blue Dot Network, intends to undertake partnerships with Japan and Australia in quality infrastructure in the context of the G7.
China and the United States have different approaches regarding partnerships for connectivity. Both are ahead of the European Union when it comes to influencing internet infrastructure. China’s 2035 strategic plan to set international standards in emerging technologies and areas such as industry and agriculture stands out. There are opportunities for the EU to partner with Japan and India on digital connectivity. In the program for the digital decade, the EU Commission points to the following critical areas: European common data and services infrastructure, strengthening the EU with the next generation of reliable low-power processors, development of pan-European 5G corridors, acquisition of supercomputers and quantum computers connected with EuroHPC, development of ultra-secure quantum communications and space infrastructures, development of a security network of operations centers, connected public administration, European blockchain infrastructure, and services, European digital innovation hubs, high-tech partnerships for digital skills through the pact for digital skills, among others. The digital decade program also contains digital targets to be achieved by 2030:
– Sustainable digital infrastructure so that all European households will be covered by a Gigabit network, with all populated areas covered by 5G;
– The production of cutting-edge and sustainable semiconductors in
Europe, including processors, is at least 20% of world production in value;
– By 2025, Europe will have its first computer with quantum acceleration;
– 75% of European enterprises have taken up cloud computing services, big data, and artificial intelligence;
– More than 90% of European SMEs reach at least a basic level
of digital intensity;
– Europe will grow the pipeline of its innovative scale-ups and
improve their access to finance, leading to doubling the number
-100% online provision of key public services available for
European citizens and businesses
-100% of European citizens have access to medical records (e-records)
-80% of citizens will use a digital ID solution;
– 80% of citizens aged 16-79 have at least basic digital skills
– 20 million employed ICT specialists, with convergence between
women and men;
There are governance rules for monitoring and reporting on the progress of the digital targets. Member states are to submit strategic roadmaps on the implementation of the targets. Multi-country projects will be encouraged as a form of cooperation between the EU and member states to contribute to society and the economy’s digital and sustainable transformation. There will also be a European digital infrastructure consortium.
For Brazil, there are opportunities in strengthening geostrategic partnerships with the European Union on issues of digital connectivity, 5G, 6G, IoT, including issues of international standardization of new technologies and cybersecurity. To this end, Brazil must prepare itself with knowledge and good practices in technological issues, with human capital training specialized in the respective themes.
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Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Regulatory Communications Law. Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book “Jogo Geopolítico das Comunicações 5G: Estados Unidos, China e o Impacto no Brasil.” (Geopolitical game between United States and China on 5G technology: impact in Brazil).
 European Comission, Brussels, 8.9.2021, Communication from the Comission to the European Parliament and the Council, 2021 Strategic Foresight Report. The EU’s capacity and freedom to act.
 European Comission, JRC Science for policy report. Shaping & securing the EU’S open strategic autonomy by 2040 and beyond.