European Commission unveils regulatory plan to achieve 'technological sovereignty'

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francine cunningham Module
Francine Cunningham

Regulatory and Public Affairs Director Belgium

As part of a flagship initiative to achieve EU "technological sovereignty", the European Commission unveiled its digital strategy for the next five years today (19 February 2020). Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented the new package in Brussels, followed by a press conference with Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton. In an opinion piece published in a number of European newspapers, the Commission President described "technological sovereignty" as "the capability that Europe must have to make its own choices, based on its own values, respecting its own rules."

Three main documents released point to the Commission's thinking around regulation of the tech sector and 'Big Data':

'Shaping Europe's Digital Future': is the title of the Commission's overall vision for digital policy-making over the next five years. The EU executive's is currently considering initiatives aimed at specific regulation of online platforms, aligning competition rules to the reality of today's digital market and reducing the environment footprint of the technology sector.    
Data Strategy: at a time when European industry have been criticised for being slow to monetise personal data, this strategy suggests that the EU can become a world leader by harnessing the enormous amounts of (non-personal) industrial data produced by European companies. Forthcoming initiatives to create a single market for data include a framework for the creation of "Common European Data Spaces" and a "Data Act" to remove barriers and introduce rules for the sharing of business to business (B2B) data, as well as business to government (B2G) data.

A White Paper on Artificial Intelligence: while Commission President Von der Leyen had initially promised a legislative proposal on AI within her first 100 days in office, this proved to be an over-ambitious timetable. Instead, the Commission has published this paper exploring policy options such as a testing and certification system before "high-risk" technologies are permitted on the EU market. A legislative proposal on AI is now expected by the end of 2020.

The European Commission documents, fact sheets and press release can be accessed here.

The documents on data and AI are open for public consultation and feedback over the next three months. Bird & Bird is ready to assist clients who wish to engage in this process.

For further information, please contact Francine Cunningham.

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