EU’s race to digital sovereignty: the Commission’s ‘Path to the Digital Decade’

Niccolò Giusti

On Wednesday 15 September, the European Commission presented its ‘Path to the Digital Decade’, a plan that aims to achieve by 2030 the digital transition of EU’s economy and society.

The proposed plan builds on the Commission’s ‘2030 Digital Compass’ presented earlier in March that outlined the EU’s executive vision for a successful digital transition of the EU. The ‘Path to the Digital Decade’ is a governance framework to reach this target, and is based on four main points: digital skills, digital infrastructures, digitalisation of businesses and public services. More specifically, these include data infrastructure and services, 5G corridors, super- and quantum computers as well as blockchain services.

Overall, the Commission proposes Member States to cooperate on an annual basis in implementing the digital targets and measuring progress. In this regard, the ‘Path’ proposes an enhanced cooperation between the EU executive and Member States. This will be done through a shared monitoring system based on measurement tools – the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – to concretely track progress. In addition, recommendations would feed into the European Semester, the main tool through which the Commission issues country-specific recommendations, as a means to then define strategic roadmaps with Member States.

According to the plan, the Commission will report? annually to the European Parliament and the Council on the ‘State of the Digital Decade’, including recommended actions and measures for each Member State which would ultimately be agreed on as ‘joint commitments’. Finally, the Commission plans to assess and review these targets by 2026.

The proposal is not solely a roadmap but also aims to greatly boost investments for EU’s digital goals, relying on a combination of resources coming from the EU budget, the European Investment Bank, Member States, as well as investments coming from the private sector. Funding will be used for projects among different Member States to develop large scale digital infrastructure and services of common interest. Where the setting up of projects and their implementation is concerned, new and accelerated legal procedures will be introduced under a mechanism called the European Digital Consortium (EDIC). Firstly, projects to be presented to the European Commission will need to be in line with the EU’s digital targets and will need a consortium of at least three Member States. Secondly, legal and administrative aspects such as ownership, governance and liability would be rapidly defined in order to render the project operational.

With the ‘Path to the Digital Decade’, the EU’s goal is, on the one hand, to fill the gap in terms of investments and instruments to speed up the digital transition, while concretely measuring developments in the field of digital infrastructure. This will be a further leap in the race towards digital sovereignty.

Niccolò has been Head of European Affairs at I-Com - and the Liaison Office in Brussels - since July 2021. After obtaining a bachelor's degree in European Affairs from the University of Reading, he obtained a Master's degree in European Institutional Affairs from the University of Maastricht and a Master's degree in Business Management and Strategy from the Sole 24 Ore Business School with a scholarship.


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