Q2/2020 - European Union, Brussels, April – June 2020
EU recovery instrument related to Covid-19 “Europe's Moment: Repair and Prepare for the Next Generation: A Deeper and More Digital Single Market”, Brussels, 27 May 2020
On 27 May 2020, the EU adopted its comprehensive recovery package to deal with the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. In a communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the European Council, the Commission presents a 20-page program entitled “Europe's Moment: Repair and Prepare for the Next Generation”.
Paragraph 4.2 of the program comprises an extensive catalogue of measures for accelerated digitisation in Europe. The crisis is described as a unique opportunity for Europe to globally present itself as a secure and effective partner in a cyberspace based on the rule of law. In her speech on the recovery package, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed the concept of a “green and digital Europe”, as presented in her keynote speech on 17 February 2020. The new document states among other things: “This is Europe’s moment. Our willingness to act must live up to the challenges we are facing. National efforts alone will not be enough - Europe is in a unique position to be able to invest in a collective recovery and a better future for next generations. This is our defining generational task. The investment we make through Next Generation EU will not only help kick-start the economies and support workers, companies and regions today. It will invest in the future and make us more resilient so that we emerge stronger and further forward than before. We will accelerate the twin green and digital transition and make sure that people are at the heart of the recovery.”
The action plan comprises four concrete goals for a digital Europe:
- Improving the communication infrastructure and a rapid rollout of 5G networks,
- Strengthening the presence of European companies in strategic areas of the digital economy, in particular in the fields of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, supercomputing and cloud services,
- Development of a data economy as a motor for innovation and job creation,
- Increasing cyber resilience in Europe.
The overall volume of the action plan is EUR 750 billion. Yet the plan does not specify how much of this is to be spent on the new and now expanded EU digital strategy. In a factsheet on the financing of the relevant measures, the EU Commission assumes that a large part of the funds must come from new sources of income that have not yet been tapped. For example, the Commission expects annual revenues of up to EUR 1.3 billion from the not yet decided digital tax.
Declaration on abuse in cyberspace for criminal activities during the Covid-19 pandemic, EU's High Representative Josep Borrell, Brussels 30 April 2020
On April 30, the EU's High Representative, Josep Borrell, issued a declaration on behalf of the European Union on criminal activities in cyberspace during the Covid-19 crisis. It says that the EU condemns any cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, including DDoS attacks, blackmail software, phishing activities or disinformation campaigns. Responsibility for finding problem solutions should rest with the two UN cyber security negotiation groups (UNGGE and OEWG. On 14 May 2020, the EU extended its sanctions regime, introduced in May 2019, against states that have been proven to have engaged in criminal cyber-activities.
Establishment of EU Stakeholders Cybersecurity Certification Group (SCCG), Brussels, 22 June 2020
On 22 June 2020, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton announced the establishment of a new “Stakeholders Cybersecurity Certification Group” (SCCG) to advise the EU Commission and the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) on strategic issues related to certification and cyber security. The formation of the SCCG was agreed in the EU Cyber Security Directive of 2019. The envisaged European certification system is to increase trust and security in ICT products and services and prevent market fragmentation. Breton said at the inauguration of the group: “Not only will certification play a crucial role in increasing trust and security in ICT products, but it will also provide European companies with the necessary tools to demonstrate that their products and services have state of the art cybersecurity features. This will in turn allow them to better compete in the global market. The Stakeholder Cybersecurity Certification Group will help by bringing about the needed expertise and advice for the creation of a tailored and risk-based EU certification system.”.
The group has 50 members including Deutsche Telekom, Infineon, Robert Bosch GmbH, SAP, Thales, ETNO, BEUC, ETSI and ITU.
Public consultation on Digital Services Act, Brussels, 2 June 2020
On 2 June 2020, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the planned Digital Services Act. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had announced the development of this new directive in her political guidelines of 19 February 2020. The Digital Services Act shall become the basic legal code for all digital services in Europe. The consultation seeks to gather input from all stakeholders, ranging from business, academics, civil society, online platforms and other interested parties. The consultation is open until 4 September 2020, and it is expected that the Digital Services Act will be adopted before 2021.
Foundation of a so-called European Digital Media Observatory“ (EDMO), Brussels, 1 June 2020
On 1 June 2020, the EU opened a new European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO). The Observatory is to deal above all with fake news, disinformation campaigns and hate speech on the Internet. EDMO is intended to bring together and support a multistakeholder and multidisciplinary community of fact-checkers, academic researchers, civil society groups and media literacy experts. The EDMO Consortium is led by the European University Institute in Florence (Italy). The EDMO Consortium includes the Athens Technology Center in Greece, the University of Aarhus in Denmark and the Italian fact-checking organisation Pagella Politica. In a second phase, following a call for proposals announced for this autumn, the network shall be further expanded. EDNO is part of the EU Action Plan against disinformation adopted on 5 December 2018.
Public consultation on digitisation of cultural heritage, 22 June 2020
On 22 June 2020, the European Commission launched a public consultation on digital technology and cultural heritage. The EU had already adopted a recommendation on this subject in 2011. The fire at Notre Dame in Paris and the Covid-19 crisis have raised awareness of the need to digitise cultural heritage and make it accessible online worldwide. The EU Commission expects the consultation, which will run until 14 September 2020, to provide impetus on how the digitisation of Europe's cultural heritage can be made more effective and innovative.
High Level Internet Governance Working Group (HLIG), Brussels, 28 January 2020
On 12 June 2020, another meeting of the EU High Level Group on Internet Governance (HLIG) took place in form of a virtual meeting in the margins of the virtual EuroDIG. Besides the EU's participation in EuroDIG, the planned EU Digital Services Act, the EU strategy for a digital Europe against the background of the Covid-19 crisis, the UN Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, the preparations for the virtual IGF by the Polish government, the upcoming 68th ICANN meeting and problems related to technical standards such as DoH and New IP were on the agenda. Pearse O'Donohue, Director of the Future Networks Unit in the DG CONNECT of the European Commission, who is also Chair of the HLIG, referred to EuroDIG as the central forum for discussing the European approach to the global Internet governance debate.
ENISA: Appointment of Ad-Hoc Cyber Security Working Group on Artificial Intelligence, 14 June 2020
On 10 June 2020, the new “Ad-Hoc Cyber Security Working Group on Artificial Intelligence” was appointed by the European Union Agency for Cyber Security (ENISA). The new group will help ENISA to explore the consequences that will result from the development of artificial intelligence for security in cyberspace and what new threats may arise for digital communication. The group will make recommendations to ENISA on what measures are needed to strengthen trust and security in cyberspace.The group has 15 members, including Sven Herpig from Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, a non-profit think tank working on current political and societal challenges posed by new technologies, and Christian Berghoff from the German Federal Office for Information Security. The mandate of the group is limited to an initial period of one year but can be extended. A first comprehensive report of the group is expected in 2021.
EU-Commissioner Thierry Breton on the Chinese proposal to introduce a new Internet protocol (New IP), 3 June 2020
At a question and answer session of the European Parliament on 3 June 2020, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for digital policy, commented on the Chinese proposal to develop a new Internet Protocol (New IP) within the ITU. Breton rejected the argument that the existing Internet protocol TCP/IP is not sufficient to enable future 5G or 6G-based Internet services and that a new Internet protocol is therefore needed. He said that especially the Covid-19 crisis and the surge in the use of existing and new digital services triggered by it have proven the capacity of TCP/IP and that the protocol has “demonstrated a high level of resilience, scalability and adaptability, enabling the growth of the global Internet”. According to him, the EU Commission generally supports further improvements in Internet protocols. However, these should be materialised within the framework of the established Internet Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) applying the principles of transparency, bottom-up and openness for all stakeholders. The EU, which is not formally a member of the ITU, recommends that its 27 member states position themselves accordingly at the upcoming World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA). The European Commission stands for a single, unfragmented, open, neutral and free Internet, for permission-less innovation, privacy, the empowerment of Internet users and for respecting human rights in cyberspace.