Croatian Presidency prepares for digital files after the Coronavirus outbreak

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On 6 April, a leaked version of the draft conclusions of the Telecom Council of the EU (hereafter, the Council) on Shaping Europe’s Digital Future circulated in Brussels. The document, dated 1 April, was sent by the Croatian Presidency of the EU to national delegations and outlines the work to prepare for the post-coronavirus period.

The text addresses several digital issues such as data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and the Digital Services Act. On data, the draft conclusions stress the need to share data across the EU. The current Coronavirus outbreak has led to big steps in the discussion on the data economy, where officials have used the argument that data sharing can be crucial for public interest. Consequently, the conclusions call on the Commission to present concrete plans to create a single market for data as soon as possible. On data protection, the text underlines the importance of privacy in particular in three domains, namely the data economy, e-health and artificial intelligence.

Regarding artificial intelligence, the Council requests that the Commission puts forward a proposal to “boosts trust while stimulating innovation and use of the technology”. Important, however, that future proposals follow a risk-based, proportionate and if necessary regulatory approach.

The Digital Services Act is also addressed. The Council emphasized “the need for clear and harmonized rules and responsibilities and accountability for digital services,” while stressing the need for “effective action against illegal activities and content online,” and protecting fundamental rights. The Council conclusions also refer to the creation of an EU-wide digital identity, but take on a more conservative position, stating that the Commission has to review the existing legislation to create a reliable framework that would protect privacy.

Finally, on sustainability, the document recognizes that the tech sector has to enable the green transition, but also has to work on reducing its carbon emissions and environmental impact.

The Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union will discuss the text in the Working Party on Telecommunications in May (depending on potential future restrictions) and aims to have the conclusions adopted during the Telecom Council on 5 June.

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