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ZEI Monitor: EU Progress 2019-2024



ZEI follows the policy progress in the six areas which have priority for the EU institutions over the period 2019-2024:


Commission Priority 2: A Europe Fit for the Digital Age


Policy Areas

  • Data Protection

  • Better access to online goods for consumers and businesses

  • The right environment for digital networks and services

  • Economy and Society


European Commission Work Programs:

Please click on the respective policy objective to learn more.


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Europe’s digital decade

  • Europe’s digital decade: 2030 digital targets(non-legislative, Q1 2021):

On the 9th of March 2021, the European Commission published a Communication  regarding the European Digital Decade (Press release)

Goals: With the "Digital Compass 2030", the Commission formulates four concrete objectives to achieve its digitization efforts:

1. A digitally skilled population with highly skilled digital professionals: In addition to the basic digital skills target set out in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, further develop the digital education system.

2. Secure and performant sustainable digital infrastructures
a) All European households shall be equipped with a gigabit network and all populated areas shall equipped with 5G networks  
b) To drive the production of advanced and sustainable semiconductors in Europe, including processors
c) 10,000 carbon-neutral, high-security edge nodes shall be deployed across the EU by 2030, distributed to ensure low-latency (a few milliseconds) access to data services wherever businesses are located.
d) By 2025, Europe should have a first computer with quantum acceleration, paving the way for Europe to be at the forefront of quantum capabilities by 2030.

3. Digital transformation of businesses: By 2030, 75 per cent of European companies are expected to use cloud computing services, Big Data, and artificial intelligence. In addition, more than 90 per-cent of European SMEs should have achieved at least a basic level of digital intensity

4. Digitization of public services
a) By 2030, EU citizens should be able to view an electronic version of their medical records
b) Enable online provision of key public services to European citizens and businesses by 2030.
c) 80 per cent of EU citizens shall use a digital ID solution by 2030.

Implementation: To achieve the Digital Compass goals, the European Commission is pursuing the implementation of a governance structure with annual reporting and tracking. The Commission intends to propose the Digital Compass objectives in the form of a digital policy program to be adopted in an ordinary legislative procedure, focusing on implementation and ongoing commitment to the common digital objectives

Timeframe: The European Commission aims to present concrete objectives with its proposal for a digital policy program by the third quarter of 2021 and hopes to make decisive progress with the other institutions on a statement of digital principles by the end of 2021

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Data package

  • a) Data Act (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 114 TFEU, Q3 2021) b)Review of the Database Directive (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 114 TFEU, Q3 2021)

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Digital levy

  • Digital levy and a proposal for digital levy as own resource (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Q2 2021)

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A trusted and secure European e-ID

  • A trusted and secure European e-ID(legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 114 TFEU, Q1 2021)

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Platform workers

  • Improving the working conditions of platform workers (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 153 TFEU, Q1/Q4 2021)

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Industrial strategy for Europe

  • Updating the new industrial strategy for Europe (non-legislative, Q2 2021)

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Foreign subsidies

  • Follow-up to the White Paper on foreign subsidies: a) Levelling the playing field (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 207 TFEU, Q2 2021) b) Public procurement (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 207 TFEU, Q2 2021)

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Civil, defence and space industries

  • Action plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries(non-legislative, Q1 2021)

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Design requirements and consumer rights for electronics

  • New design requirements and consumer rights for electronics (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 114 TFEU, Q4 2021)


2020 (revised after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic)

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Europe fit for the digital age

  • European Data Strategy: On the 19th of February 2020, the European Commission presented a European Data Strategy which proposes to put in place an enabling legislative framework for the governance of common European data spaces in fourth quarter of 2020. Furthermore in 2021 a possible European Data Act could foster business-to-government data sharing for the public interest and support business-to-business data sharing, in particular addressing issues related to usage rights for co-generated data (such as IoT data in industrial settings), typically laid down in private contracts.

1. White Paper on Artificial Intelligence setting out options for a legislative framework for trustworthy AI (adopted together with this Communication), with a follow-up on safety, liability, fundamental rights and data (Q4 2020).

2. Building and deploying cutting-edge joint digital capacities in the areas of AI, cyber, super-and quantum computing, quantum communication and blockchain. European Strategies on Quantum and blockchain (Q2 2020) as well as a revised EuroHPC Regulation on supercomputing.

3. Accelerating investments in Europe’s Gigabit connectivity, through a revision of the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive, an updated Action Plan on 5G and 6G, a new Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (2021).5G corridors for connected and automated mobility, including railway corridors, will be rolled out (2021-2030) (2021-2023).

4. A European cybersecurity strategy, including the establishment of a joint Cybersecurity Unit, a Review of the Security of Network and Information Systems (NIS) Directive and giving a push to the single market for cybersecurity.

5. A Digital Education Action Plan to boost digital literacy and competences at all levels of education (Q22020).

6. A reinforced Skills Agenda to strengthen digital skills throughout society and a reinforced Youth Guarantee to put a strong focus on digital skills in early career transitions (Q2 2020).

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A European approach to Artificial Intelligence

  • Postponed to the Q1 2021: Follow-up measures to the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence, including on safety, liability, fundamental rights and data (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 114 TFEU, originally scheduled for the Q4 2020)
  • White Paper on Artificial Intelligence: On the 19th of February 2020, the European Commission published its White Paper on "Artificial Intelligence- A European approach to excellence and trust" and the accompanying Report on the safety and liability framework. The stated goal of the Commission is to launch a broad consultation of member states, civil society, industry and academics on concrete proposals for a European approach to AI. On the one hand, these include policy means to boost investments in research and innovation, enhance the development of skills and support the uptake of AIby SMEs, and on the other hand proposals for key elements of a future regulatory framework.

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Digital services

  • Digital Service Act and Digital Markets Act - Legislative Proposals: On the 15th of December 2020, the European Commission proposed two Regulations, as a part of the European Digital Strategy: The Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. The acts mainly address obligations for platforms, transparency for users and fair competition in the digital single market. They modernize the current legal framework for digital services and thus replace the eCommerce Directive from the year 2000. (Press release)

    Digital Services Act:

    The main aims of the proposed Digital Services Act are:
    1.    to ensure the proper function of the internal market for intermediation services, by foster innovation and competitiveness within the single market and by establishing an accountability framework for online platforms and
    2.    to set out uniform rules for a safe online environment, where fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter are effectively protected.

    This proposed Regulation contains clear rules on the provision of intermediary services, by establishing a framework for their responsibilities. This includes to address the risks faced by their users and to protect their rights, as well as rules on specific due diligence obligations. Another focus is on the enforcement of the regulation, including the cooperation between the competent authorities.
    Furthermore, the proposed regulation comprehends additional obligations for very large online platforms to manage systemic risks. This initiative should mainly ensure that the single market remains competitive. (FAQ)

    Digital Markets Act:
    The main aims of the proposed Digital Markets Act are:
    1.    to ensure that the conduct of large online platforms, acting as “gatekeepers” in digital markets, is guaranteed in a fair way online and thus
    2.    to establish contestable and fair markets in the digital sector across the Union where gatekeepers are presented.
    A "gatekeeper" is a provider of core platform services that has a significant impact on the internal market, a strong intermediary position, and an entrenched and enduring position in its operations.
    By establishing those aims, the regulation creates new opportunities for innovators and start-ups to compete in the online platform environment. As a result, consumers will have a wider variety of choices which providers to choose from and fairer prices. Nevertheless, the gatekeepers still have the opportunities to innovate, but in a fair way, without unfair practices towards the businesses and consumers.(FAQ)

  • Digital Services Act - Resolution / own-initiative reports of the European Parliament:

European Parliament resolution of the 20th of October 2020 on the European Commission's planned legislative proposal on digital services and on issues relating to fundamental rights, together with a series of own-initiative reports:

1. Report (JURI) of the 5th October 2020 with recommendations to the EU Commission on the Digital Services Act: Adaptation of commercial and civil law rules for companies operating online: a) updating EU rules on "notice and action" procedures to protect users' rights, b) stricter conditions for targeted advertising, c) less power for algorithms; d) Existing or new EU body for monitoring and imposing fines;

2. Report (IMCO) of the 7th of October 2020 with recommendations to the Commission on the Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market: a) Creating new rules to define the responsibilities of digital service providers, address risks for users and promote innovative services across the EU; b) A clear and binding mechanism to fight illegal online content; making the internet safer for consumers; c) Specific rules for large platforms to facilitate market entry for start-ups

3. Draft report (LIBE) on the Digital Services Act and fundamental rights issues of 27th of April 2020: a) Updating EU rules on "Notice and Action" procedures to protect users' rights; b) Stricter conditions for targeted advertising; c) Less power for algorithms; d) Existing or new EU body to monitor and impose fines

  • High Performance Computing: On the 18th of September 2020, the European Commission presented a Proposal for a Regulation on establishing the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (JU EuroHPC). The proposed regulation aims to set new financial envelopes of 8 billion euro until 2033 for the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, by pooling European, national and private investments. This aims to maintain and further expand Europe's leading role in the fields of high-performance computing and quantum information technology. (Press release)

With the help of the new budget, the EuroHPC JU is to perform important tasks:

(1) Building and using a world-class high-performance computing and data infrastructure in the EU (the aim is to have 3 of the 5 best supercomputers in the world)
(2) Capacities for high-performance computing and quantum computing should be made available to all users throughout Europe (training on the required skills should be offered)
(3) The high-performance computing capacities are to be increased in order to give the digital strategy a dynamic dimension in all areas (in particular mass data analysis, artificial intelligence, cloud technology and cyber security)
(4) Providing secure cloud-based services for the European Public Data Space (as outlined in the European Data Strategy 2020)
(5) Development and establishment of an infrastructure for quantum informatics to solve complex problems

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Increasing cybersecurity

EU-Cybersecurity Strategy: On the 16th of December 2020, the European Commission, together with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, presented a the European Cybersecurity Strategy for a Digital Decade. (Press release)  

In this context, to improve digital and physical resilience, the Commission has proposed two directives:

1. The proposed Directive COM/2020/823 (NSI 2) repeals the 2016 network and information systems security Directive and standardizes measures for a high common level of cybersecurity in the Union

2. The proposed Directive COM/2020/829 addresses the resilience of critical entities

The goal of the cybersecurity strategy is to create a secure defense capability against cyber threats through strengthened digital services and tools due to the increasing social and economic digital transformation. It also aims to strengthen the trust of citizens and businesses in services while ensuring a global and open Internet. The planned safeguards are therefore also intended to safeguard European values and fundamental rights in particular.

The EU will take action in three areas:
1. Resilience, technological sovereignty and leadership
2. Operational capabilities to prevent, deter and respond
3. Cooperation to advance a global and open cyberspace

NSI 2 Directive Proposal:

This proposal on the new NSI 2 directive intends to adapt the existing NIS directive to current needs and thus to future proof it. In terms of content, the scope of application of supervisory regulations is expanded, primarily by creating new sectors and by granting the member states discretionary powers in this regard. The proposal also introduces a risk management concept for companies. This mainly tightens the safety requirements for them. In this context, the member states are imposed with strict supervisory measures and enforcement requirements on the national authorities. In addition, the proposal decrees coordinated disclosure and cooperation between member states and across the EU, especially in cyber crisis management.

Directive Proposal on the resilience of critical entities:

This proposal aims to ensure that service delivery in the internal market can be ensured by strengthening the resilience of critical infrastructure operators in member states. In particular, this is to be achieved through a better understanding of risks and means to manage them.

  • On the 15th of December 2020, Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and Vice President Margaritis Schinas are scheduled to present the executive’s review of the Network and Information Systems (NIS) Directive, which entered into force in August 2016. Member states had to transpose the measures into law by May 2018.

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Digital for consumers

  • Postponed to the Q1/2021: Common chargers for mobile phones and similar devices(legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 114 TFEU, originally scheduled for the Q3 2020);Review of the Roaming Regulation(legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 114 TFEU, originally scheduled for the Q4 2020)

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A new industrial strategy for Europe

  • European Industrial Strategy: On the 10th of March 2020, the European Commission presented a new strategy with which it intends to provide comprehensive support to European industry in the transition to carbon neutrality and digitization. This strategy comprises three key points. (Press release)

1. A new industrial policy strategy comprising a bundle of individual measures
    a) Action plan for intellectual property
    b) Adaptation of EU competition law to the requirements of the digital economy / Green Deals
    c) White Paper on the distorting effects of foreign subsidies on competition in the internal market (mid-2020), which is to culminate in a legislative act in 2021.
    d) Measures to modernize and decarbonize energy-intensive industries
    e) Strengthening Europe's industrial and strategic autonomy through an action plan for critical raw materials and pharmaceuticals
    f) An alliance for clean hydrogen
    g) Further legislation and guidelines on green public procurement

2. A new SME strategy: among other things, the Commission intends to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to go public and therefore support the creation of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) fund within the SME financing window of "InvestEU

Action plan to improve implementation and enforcement of single market legislation, which aims to remove obstacles caused by breaches of EU law.

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Aviation services package

  • Q4 2020: Revision of airport charges(legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 100(2) TFEU, Q4 2020); Revision of the provision of air services(legislative, incl. impact assessment, Article 100(2) TFEU, Q4 2020)

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Towards a European Research Area

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Digital finance

1. The Proposal for a Regulation on Crypto-Assets (a digital representation of values or rights that can be stored and traded electronically) intends to promote innovation while preserving financial stability and protecting investors from risk. 

2. The Proposal for a Regulation on a Pilot Scheme for Market Infrastructures based on Distributed Ledger Technology aims to ensure an adequate level of consumer and investor protection, to provide legal certainty for crypt assets, to enable innovative companies to use block chain technology, distributed ledger technology ("DLT") and crypt assets, and to safeguard financial stability. Crypto values are one of the most important applications of block chain technology in finance. The Regulation lays down requirements (operating license, operating conditions, supervision, etc.) for multilateral trading facilities and securities settlement systems using distributed ledger technology ("DLT market infrastructures"). DLT is a class of technologies that support the decentralized recording of encrypted data.

3. The Proposal for a Regulation on the Operational Resilience of Digital Systems aims to help block cyber-attacks and improve the supervision of outsourced services.

With the package, the Commission aims in particular to promote Europe's competitiveness and innovation in the financial sector, with four main objectives:

(a) Combating the fragmentation of the digital single market for financial services
(b) EU digital innovations should be in the interest of consumers and facilitate market efficiency (ensuring consumer protection and financial stability)
(c) Creation of a European Financial Data Space to promote data-driven innovation, building on the European Data Strategy
(d) Addressing the challenges and risks associated with the digital transformation, in particular to promote resilience, privacy and appropriate regulatory monitoring

4. The new legal framework also includes a Proposal for a Directive that amends and intends to clarify existing European financial services directives and establish a temporary exemption for multilateral trading facilities in order to strengthen the overall operational stability of digital systems and to ensure legal certainty with regard to Crypto-Assets.


ZEI Publications on EU Digital Policy

Dominique Roch: Priority 2: European Digital Single Market or the Collective Failure of Individuals, in: Stüwe, Robert / Panayotopoulos, Thomas (eds.): The Juncker Commission. Politicizing EU Policies (Schriftenreihe des Zentrum für Europäische Integrationsforschung, Vol. 79), Nomos: Baden-Baden 2020, p. 91-107, ISBN 978-3-8487-5597-4.

Johannes Wiggen: Chancen und Grenzen europäischer Cybersicherheitspolitik, ZEI Discussion Paper C 261/2020.  (Download) (Abstract)

Christian Koenig / Carl Prior: The policy objective 'digitization' and European Union Law, in: Robert Stüwe / Liska Wittenberg (eds.): ZEI Future of Europe Observer. Von der Leyen: Europe's New Deal Despite Corona?, Vol. 8 No. 1 April 2020, p. 4-5. (Download)

Robert Klotz: Cartels and Restrictive Agreements in the Liberalized Telecommunication Sector – EU and National Competition Law Enforcement, in: Christian Koenig / Ludger Kühnhardt (eds.): Governance and Regulation in the European Union. A Reader (Schriftenreihe des Zentrum für Europäische Integrationsforschung, Vol. 77), Nomos: Baden-Baden 2017, p. 253 - 270, ISBN print: 978-3-8487-4462-6; ISBN online: 978-3-8452-8672-3.

Chiara Ristuccia: Industry 4.0: SMEs Challenges and Opportunities in the Era of Digitalization, ZEI Discussion Paper C 252/2019.  (Download) (Abstract)

ZEI Insights Policy Brief Series (2014-2019)

Jurisprudential Publications on the Digital Single Market   


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