The German Presidency: Six crucial months that will define Europe’s digital and green recovery
Following the launch of the German Presidency of the Council last week, EU leaders and Chancellor Merkel meet today for a mini-summit on the EU budget and the COVID recovery plan.
DIGITALEUROPE calls on the German Presidency to champion digital resilience and growth post-COVID, and to reinvent our economy with a strong focus on digital, green and the implementation of a harmonised European market.
Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Director-General of DIGITALEUROPE, said:
The top priority for the German Presidency is to secure an ambitious and forward-looking long-term budget and Coronavirus stimulus package.
In their response to the crisis Germany is emerging as a digital frontrunner and leading by example. An impressive 15% of their latest tranche of recovery spending has been dedicated to digital, including investments in digital skills, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, connectivity and smart cities. Their Coronavirus warning app has already been downloaded 15 million times. This is exactly the digital focus we need to see at European level if we are going to come out of this crisis stronger, more innovative and more resilient.
We are pleased to see a strong focus on digital in their programme, withspecific mentions of strengthening our digital capacities. Building up our digital skills, boosting our connectivity and upgrading our digital infrastructure are all key to ensuring Europe’s technological development.
Moreover, we strongly believe that a continued European commitment to open, fair, and rules-based trade is the best way to diversify and strengthen supply chains and hence contribute to Europe’s future economic resilience. Europe should pursue collaborative leadership at the global level, creating open world-class digital industrial ecosystems making Europe a technological super-hub.
Europe is the continent with the strongest regulatory framework to embrace the challenges of the digital era. However, on there are still major challenges with national implementation of regulations, creating huge barriers for SMEs to grow in the European market. We urge leaders to systematically drive harmonisation and implementation, enabling SMEs to be more resilient in crisis times and give them opportunities to grow within the EU in times of recovery.
Issues like data sharing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and the Digital Services Act will continue to be top of the agenda for the next six months. It essential that we can protect the fundamental rights of our citizens whilst ensuring that Europe stays competitive and becomes an innovation champion.
We will also be following the progression of the European Green Deal measures closely. Digital technologies have a vital role to play to lower emissions across a whole range of sectors.
And finally, the next six months will see another crunch moment in the future EU-UK relationship. We call for a comprehensive tariff- and quota-free trade agreement that preserves data flows. At international level, Europe must continue to push for ambitious digital trade provisions, with the G20 summit in November being a key focal point for these efforts.