Digital Day 2021: EU countries commit to key digital initiatives for Europe’s Digital Decade

On Digital Day 2021, Ministers representing EU Member States signed three Declarations to pool efforts and resources to promote international connectivity, incentivise the rollout of clean digital technologies and improve the regulatory environment for start-ups and scale-ups. These tangible commitments will help accelerate Europe’s green and digital transformation and will contribute to the vision and goals of Europe’s Digital Decade. The event was held on Friday 19 March.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, said: “The new commitments made today strengthen our joint ambitions for a human-centred approach to digitalisation. With several Member states signing, the declarations consolidate commitments within three areas, namely connectivity, start-ups and clean digital technologies, supporting our ambitions towards a more competitive, inclusive and green Europe.”

Connectivity: Europe to reinforce global connectivity networks through its Data gateways

27 European countries signed the Declaration on ‘European Data Gateways as a key element of the EU’s Digital Decade‘, in which they committed to reinforce connectivity between Europe and its partners in Africa, Asia, the European Neighbourhood and Latin America. The focus will be on terrestrial and submarine cables, satellites and network links for increased and secure data exchange. The EU already has strong data protection standards and high-quality internal connectivity. By improving its global connectivity networks, it can become a global, secure and agile data centre.

Startups: Startups and scale-ups to benefit from best practices

25 European countries signed the Declaration on ‘EU Startup Nations Standard’, which aims to ensure that all European start-ups and scale-ups benefit from the best practices adopted by successful startup ecosystems. To this end, the Commission, together with Member States and industrial stakeholders, has identified a number of best practices that contribute to a growth-friendly environment. These include the processing of applications for visas from third country talent; fiscal treatment of stock options; and, increasing the amount and diversity of private capital. The goal is that these practices become the general rule, central to the EU’s transition to a sustainable, digital and resilient economy.

Green digital transformation: mobilising investments in clean digital technologies

26 European countries signed the Declaration on ‘A Green and Digital Transformation of the EU’ to accelerate the use of green digital technologies for the benefit of the environment. Member States will work together to speed up the deployment and development of advanced digital technologies, such as 5G and 6G, fibre optics, high-performance computing and Internet of Things, as key solutions to achieve climate neutrality and drive the green and digital transitions in priority sectors, such as energy, transport, manufacturing, agri-food and construction. Other areas of action include the promotion of green cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies, as well as sustainable hardware, green public procurement, support for green tech start-ups and SMEs.

In addition, 26 Chief Executive Officers from the ICT sector joined the ‘European Green Digital Coalition’, committing on behalf of their companies to significantly reduce their carbon footprint by 2030, and to become climate neutral by 2040. Solutions include investing in the development of more energy and material efficient digital technologies, working with relevant NGOs and expert organisations to measure and monitor the net environmental impact of green digital solutions and many more. Finally, they commit to co-create deployment guidelines of green digital solutions together with other industry leaders, in order to accelerate the transition to sustainability of sectors such as energy, transport, building and agriculture.

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