The Commission recently presented a vision for Europe’s digital transformation by 2030 which revolves around four main pillars: skills, government, infrastructure and business. These four areas are part of the EU Digital Compass which is designed to translate the Union’s digital ambitions for 2030 into concrete terms. The plan includes targets and key milestones, a joint governance structure including a traffic light monitoring system to identify successes and gaps, as well as multi-state projects combining investments from the EU, Member States and the private sector.

The vision builds on the Strategy on Shaping Europe's Digital Future that remains the overarching framework. It considers the enormous changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has massively accelerated the use of digital tools, demonstrating their opportunities while exposing the vulnerability of our society to new digital inequalities. The Communication also includes a monitoring system measuring the progress of the EU against the key targets for 2030.

Digital rights and principles

The Digital Compass outlines a set of “digital rights and principles”. Certain rights are already enshrined in EU law and include: freedom of expression, access to information, freedom to set up and conduct a business online, protection of personal data and privacy and protection of the intellectual creation of individuals in the online space. The “digital principles” below are not entirely new and will be connected to the four main pillars:

  • Universal Access to internet services
  • A secure and trusted online environment
  • Universal digital education and skills to enable people to take an active part in society and in democratic processes
  • Access to digital systems and devices that respect the environment
  • Accessible and human-centric digital public services and administration
  • Ethical principles for human-centric algorithms
  • Protecting and empowering children in the online space
  • Access to digital health services.

By 2030, Europe aims to reach the targets set out below.

First pillar – a digitally skilled population

  • A target on basic digital skills for a minimum of 80% of the population to have basic digital skills
  • The goal of having 20 million ICT specialists employed in the EU, with gender convergence

Second pillar - sustainable digital infrastructures

  • All European households to be covered by a Gigabit connectivity network, with all populated areas covered by 5G
  • Striving for 20% of the world’s production in value of semiconductors in Europe by 2030, high-performance computing and data infrastructures (to strengthen European cloud infrastructures and capabilities) and quantum technologies (to be at the forefront of quantum capabilities)
  • 10,000 climate neutral highly secure edge nodes to be deployed in the EU
  • By 2025, the EU to have its first computer with quantum acceleration
  • Introducing mechanisms to measure the energy efficiency of data centres and electronic communications networks used by European companies

Third pillar – digital transformation of businesses

  • 75% of European enterprises to be using cloud computing services, big data and Artificial Intelligence
  • More than 90% of European SMEs to reach at least a basic level of digital intensity
  • Europe to grow its innovative scale-ups and improve their access to finance, leading to a doubling of the number of unicorns (start-ups with a value of $1 billion).

Fourth pillar – digitisation of public services

  • 100% online provision of key public services
  • 80% of EU citizens using the European Digital Identity.
  • Secured e-voting: greater public participation in democratic life
  • Government as a Platform: holistic and easy access to public services with advanced capabilities, such as data processing, AI and virtual reality.
  • Wide deployment of a trusted, user-controlled digital identity, allowing each citizen to control their own online interactions and presence.

Multi-country projects and international digital partnerships

The policy programme aims to enable the Commission to engage with Member States to launch and shape Multi-Country Projects. Projects already under discussion include building a common and multi-purpose pan-European interconnected data processing infrastructure that would enable easy exchange and sharing of data, notably for Common European Data Spaces. There are also plans for pan-European deployment of 5G corridors for advanced digital rail operations, as well as connected and automated mobility to contribute to road safety and green deal objectives. In addition, the Commission aims to establish a new EU-US Trade and Technology Council.

Next steps

The Commission will soon launch a wide-ranging discussion and consultation process on the EU vision by:

  • Consulting on the digital principles
  • Discussing and engaging with Member States, the European Parliament, regional, economic and social partners, as well as businesses on specific elements of the Communication in the course of 2021
  • Launching a multi-stakeholder forum on the Digital Compass
  • The Commission aims to propose a Digital Policy programme operationalising the Digital Compass by the end of the summer and progress towards an Inter-institutional declaration on Digital Principles by end the of 2021.

How can companies and organisations participate?

The Commission welcomes industry views in the forthcoming discussions and consultation process. Europe’s Digital Decade may also create opportunities for the industry in terms of support and funding by the European Commission to spur digital transformation of business, public services and deployment of digital infrastructure.