Informal video conference of EU ministers responsible for telecommunications and digital policy

Informal video conference of EU ministers responsible for telecommunications and digital policy

© BMWi/Andreas Mertens

Today, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier is chairing an informal video conference of the ministers in charge of telecommunications and digital policy in the EU. The conference is held under the German presidency of the Council of the EU. European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton will also attend the virtual meeting.

Said Federal Minister Altmaier: “We need momentum for growth in the EU if we are to leave this crisis behind us. To achieve this, we must press ahead with the digital transformation and strengthen Europe’s digital sovereignty in order to maintain our competitiveness and harness the full potential for innovation that is offered by the European Single Market. This also means that we need good and efficient gigabit infrastructure and a clear framework. For this reason, we will be discussing two fields for which the European Commission has announced legislative proposals. These pertain to the framework for data use and for artificial intelligence. We will also discuss the design for an internal market in digital services.”

In today’s meeting, ministers will exchange views on how to effectively improve the conditions for data use and data innovation in the European Union and how to enforce European data protection standards beyond the boundaries of the Single Market. Also on the agenda are discussions on the basic principles for a European framework for artificial intelligence, which is to foster excellency and trust in the technology.

The second focus on the meeting will be on the internal market in digital services. Digital services include the services provided by online market places and social networks. The ministers will discuss potential designs for a modern European legal framework for digital services, and for regulating large online platforms. This is especially relevant for gatekeeper platforms, i.e. platforms that control users’ access to many different online services. The objective here is to strengthen the innovative potential and drive of online platform ecosystems within the Single Market. Like all of the other points on the agenda, this item will also be discussed with a view to a potential future European legislative package governing online services.

In its Communication ‘Shaping Europe’s Digital Future’ (February 2020), the European Commission announced that it was preparing a proposal to this effect. The text is expected to be presented in early December.

Further to this, a joint declaration on cooperation on the establishment of a European Cloud Federation is to be adopted in the course of the meeting. By signing this document, the EU Member States will commit to establishing a European data ecosystem and a European data infrastructure. The European Cloud Federation is to foster European networks and unlock synergies between existing data and cloud initiatives. An important part in this is to be played by GAIA-X, a project for a next-generation data infrastructure for Europe.