The Covid-19 pandemic has once again highlighted that digital technology and infrastructures are pervasive and that they play an important strategic role in our economy, society and democracy. Therefore, the European Commission’s initiative to provide a digital strategy – the 2030 Digital Compass – is very timely and welcome.
However, the Compass has several shortcomings that will make it unlikely the EU will reach its political goals by 2030: an environmentally and socially sustainable digital transition and more digital autonomy.
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First, the strategy fails to articulate important public missions that harness digital technology for citizens’ benefit, and that align with the European Green Deal and the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan.
Second, the strategy does not propose pathways to rebalance the asymmetric transatlantic tech relations, particularly in cloud infrastructure and data processing.
Finally, the proposed measures to implement the strategy – annual reports, voluntary multi-country projects, and a generic 20% target of digital spending under the Next Generation EU funds – do not fully convince. Making the most of recovery funds will require strong incentives and mechanisms to pool Member State resources, as well as the strategic use of public procurement.