The EU “digital decade” program entered into force this January as a monitoring and cooperation mechanism to achieve common targets among member states for Europe’s digital transformation by 2030. The program also creates a new framework for projects that will allow the EU states to join forces on digital initiatives.
The European Parliament, the member states and the Commission have jointly set concrete objectives and targets in the digital decade’s four key areas:
= digital skills,
= digital connectivity infrastructure,
= the digitalisation of businesses, and
= online public services.
All these objective and targets are in respect of the Declaration on European Digital Rights and Principles adopted at the end of 2022.
A political agreement by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU was reached in July 2022. Besides, the decade’s objectives and targets are accompanied by a cyclical cooperation process to take stock of progress and define milestones so that they can be reached by 2030.
In March 2021, the Commission revealed the European digital transformation plan by 2030 in its Digital Compass and in the Digital Decade Communication. In the State of the Union address in September 2021, Commission President specified “the path to the digital decade” with a robust governance framework to reach the digital targets. The “path” includes combined member states’ and the EU institutional efforts and investments to create a digital environment in Europe that can lead the future, while empowering people and their businesses.
The inter-institutional Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles, the basics for the EU’s digital future, was signed in December 2022. An assessment of the implementation of the digital principles will be formulated in the annual State of the Digital Decade report, to make sure that rights and freedoms enshrined in the EU’s legal digital framework are respected both online and offline.
Digital Decade: targets and objectives
Starting this January, the EU member states, in collaboration with the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the Commission, will shape their digital policies to achieve targets in 4 areas to:
= Improve citizens’ basic and advanced digital skills;
= Improve the take-up of new technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, data and cloud, in the EU businesses, including in small businesses;
= Further advance the EU’s connectivity, computing and data infrastructure; and
= Make public services and administration available online.
These targets embody the policy program’s objectives, such as ensuring safe and secure digital technology, a competitive online environment for SMEs, safe cybersecurity practices, fair access to digital opportunities for all, as well as developing sustainable, energy and resource-efficient innovations.
The Digital Decade objectives and targets will guide the actions of the member states, followed by the assessments by the Commission in an annual progress report. A new high-level expert group, the Digital Decade Board, will also reinforce the cooperation between the Commission and the EU states on digital transformation issues. A new Forum will also be created to bring on board various stakeholders and discuss their views.
Cooperation and monitoring
Starting from this January, the Commission, together with the EU states’ governance, will develop key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to monitor progress towards individual targets, within the framework of the annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI).
As to the EU member states, they are obliged to prepare their national strategic roadmaps within coming nine months, describing the policies, measures and actions that they plan to make at national level to reach the program’s objectives and targets.
Around June 2023, the Commission will publish its annual progress report, the State of the Digital Decade, to provide an update, assessment and recommendation on progress towards the targets and objectives.
More information in the following Commission web-sites: = Official Journal; = Updated Questions & Answers – Policy Programme: Path to the Digital Decade; = Updated General information page – Digital Decade Policy programme; = Updated Digital Decade Community on Futurium; = Updated Fact page.