Digital – A Europe fit for the digital age

Autonomous humanoid robot programmed with Swiss software
Autonomous humanoid robot programmed with Swiss software © FDFA, N. Lobet

A "Europe fit for the digital age" is one of the political priorities of the European Commission of Ursula von der Leyen (2019-2024). With the COVID pandemic, this priority has been confirmed by the European institutions and the Member States, and it is now a matter of adapting the single market to the digital age. 134 billion euros have been earmarked for the digital sector in the Economic Recovery Plan of May 2020 (i.e. almost 20% of planned spending).

As part of its Digital Agenda 2020, the Commission has announced more than 30 legislative measures, action plans and initiatives around three main objectives:

  • Making technology work for people: The economy is strengthened and made more competitive through the use of digital technologies. At the same time, the technological skills of people are strengthened and the necessary infrastructure developed. Measures to protect against cyber threats and rules for the development of technologies in the field of Artificial Intelligence are also planned.
  • Creating a fair and competitive economy: The European internal market must enable the participation of all companies and the development and marketing of digital technologies, products and services. In addition to competitiveness, consumer confidence in technology must also be strengthened.
  • Building an open, democratic and sustainable society: Fundamental values are central to the use of new technologies. Innovation contributes to making the economy more sustainable and to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. For citizens, an environment must be created in the digital space that lays the foundations for the reliable use of new technologies.

President von der Leyen's ambition is to make the EU a central digital player on the world stage. The European Commission has therefore proposed, on the one hand, in-depth regulation of digital services and digital markets and, on the other, measures to facilitate data sharing with a view to creating a single market for digital data. In addition, it presented a new regulation that allows for strict supervision of artificial intelligence applications according to the level of risk. In addition, numerical targets to be achieved by 2030 have been defined to ensure the digitalisation of skills, infrastructure, businesses and public services in the EU ("Digital Compass").

Switzerland and the Digital Single Market

In its 2020 Digital Switzerland strategy, the Federal Council sets out the guidelines for government action with the priority of seizing the opportunities of digitalisation in order to position Switzerland as an attractive place to live and a forward-looking, innovative economic and scientific centre. In this context, Switzerland must continue the dialogue with the European Union and coordinate activities at the national level in order to benefit from the digital single market and avoid the risk of exclusion.