The European vision of digital sovereignty: From principles to action – FA 01 Sub 01 2022

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21 June 2022 | 10:30 - 11:15 CEST | SISSA Main Auditorium | Video recording | Transcript
Consolidated programme 2022 overview / Day 1

Proposals: #31 #77

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Session teaser

What is distinctive about Europe’s digital sovereignty vision and how does Europe progress in moving from principles to action?

Session description

The Opening Plenary session of the 2022 EuroDIG conference will discuss Europe’s pathway towards digital sovereignty and explore what principles and values are underpinning Europe’s vision. Is European digital sovereignty a question of civil liberties, industrial policies or geopolitics? What is specific about Europe’s approach? Is Europe’s push for digital sovereignty enhancing internet fragmentation and what consequences does it have for the future of the cross-border internet and the digital economy? What consensus around a shared vision emerges in the region, and which elements remain contentious? How did Europe advance in constructing its digital sovereignty since the 2021 EuroDIG, and what actions can stakeholders expect in the coming months and years?

The 45 minutes Plenary Session is convening key stakeholders to discuss the state of digital sovereignty in Europe together with the audience and reflect if Europe is going in the right direction to keep the Internet safe and open.

The session will also provide a snapshot and assessment of what an historic number of initiatives mean for the manifestation of the vision of European digital sovereignty. These include in the EU legislative initiatives such as the EU DSA, DMA, Data Act, Data Governance Act, AI Act or Chips Act, as well as the GDPR and the Declaration on European Digital Rights and Principles. Moreover, there are important Council of Europe recommendations and frameworks, and civil society initiatives such as the Manifesto for Public Service Media Internet. What impact have also other international efforts on Europe's digital sovereignty vision and principles - ranging from trade agreements, over the OECD, to the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, initiated by the US, which has been signed by all EU member states and over 30 other countries around the world?


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Focal Point

  • Paul Fehlinger

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  • Vittorio Bertola
  • Giacomo Mazzone
  • Alève Mine
  • Paul Fehlinger

Key Participants

  • Werner Stengg, Expert, Cabinet of Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President and EU Commissioner for Competition
  • Francesca Bria, President, Italian National Innovation Fund
  • Alberto Di Felice, Director for Infrastructure, Privacy and Security at DigitalEurope
  • Fanny Hidvegi, Director of Europe Policy, Access Now

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  • Paul Fehlinger, Co-Founder, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network and Affiliate, Harvard University BKC

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Video record


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>> NADIA TJAHJA: Here at EuroDIG we believe in an open dialogue and the opportunity to have these discussions. Now in hybrid form, we’re here in person on sight with me, Nadia, as your host. We’re here in the beautiful main auditorium where you will find that we have a workshop room called FabLab, where other sessions will be held, also related to focus areas.

But for those of you who are online, don’t despair. I’m sitting right there listening in, making sure that your voice is also being heard. If you are speaking, if you want to have a question, you want to say something, please raise your hand and – or write something in the chat. When you do, I’ll turn on the red light and when this red light goes, the moderators who will be sitting on stage would know that there is an online speaker that would like to communicate with you but also when there is no moderator on stage, online, the red light will let you know that we have online engagement.

With this, I would like to introduce the moderator of the upcoming session, Paul Fehlinger.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you. It is a pleasure to be with all of you, I wish I would be in person and I think I speak on behalf of all the amazing panelists of this first session. We are unfortunately all remote. I’m sure that this will be a very exciting session.

To jump right in, and not to take a lot of time, because the session is just 45 minutes long, the first session, it is about The European vision of digital sovereignty: From principles to action. This is a very important topic for the future of Europe. I’m very excited that we have a great line-up of speakers to discuss this with. The first session as quickly outline Deputy Director General at “AREA Science Park” part of a block, this first Plenary is the scene setting session where we talk about what is the essence of European digital sovereignty, how does it manifest in action, what is specific about it. It will be followed by another Plenary session afterwards that discusses the technical dimension of European digital sovereignty and a third session that will discuss European digital sovereignty in an interconnected world. We want to make sure this is as interactive as possible for the session.

Before I come to our distinguished speakers and thank them for taking the time to be here with us today, I want to encourage all of you there and virtually in the Zoom room to think about one question and maybe reply in the chat. For you, what is the essence of European digital sovereignty, a matter of rights, of industrial policy, of GeoPolitics, what is specific about European digital sovereignty? If you were to think of one defining factor, what would it be? Please share in the chat as we go through the first round of questions.

I will introduce all of our speakers one by one, starting with the first round of questions. Werner Stengg, an expert, member of the cabinet of Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the E.U. Commissioner for Competition.

May I ask you, how do you define digital transformation sovereignty in one sentence?

>> WERNER STENGG: Thank you for inviting me. Good morning.

Very difficult task, as you rightly said. You refer to the geopolitics, rights, it is all of this. I will give thought to this knowing that you would ask this question, a very short one, it is about giving European citizens, businesses, governments control over the Digital Transformation. Happy to elaborate later.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you very much. I know it is a difficult question.

Francesca Bria, you are the President of the Italian National Innovation Fund and among many other affiliations. How would you define European digital sovereignty in one sentence?

>> FRANCESCA BRIA: Thank you very much.

Good morning, everyone. It is a great pleasure to be here.

Yes. Difficult task to define in one sentence. I would say technological and digital sovereignty means political and economic sovereignty. Yes. It is a combination on all of the different dimensions that you mentioned. If I have to give just one definition I would say that it means that as a society we should be able to set the direction of the gross to obtain social and environmental sustainability.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you very much.

Now I would like to come to Alberto Di Felice, you’re the Director for infrastructure, privacy and cybersecurity at the industry association DigitalEurope. How do you define European digital sovereignty in one sentence?

>> ALBERTO DI FELICE: Thank you, Paul.

Good morning, everyone.

It just so happens that digital Europe took the time to write down a definition of digital sovereignty. My answer to this question is going to be very official and relatively brief. I’ll read: Digital sovereignty is the ability to build and maintain technical and scientific expertise in critical digital technologies in both the public and private sectors while taking into account technologies and the state-of-the-art that exists in a global market.

That’s it.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you very much.

Last but not least, I would like to come to Fanny Hidvegi. She’s the Director of Europe Policy at the NGO Access Now.

How do you define European sovereignty in one sentence?

>> FANNY HIDVEGI: Good morning, everyone.

Can I also invite the fellow panelists to also put it in the chat? I try to just pick up on the details. I also wrote something down for the sake of efficiency. My sentence is Europe’s capacity to set its own digital direction, which is not oriented by profit and surveillance and that includes first to ensure Internet fundamental rights, rule of law and democracy, and second to promote these values through external relationships with people at its centre.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you very much.

I encourage all panelists, if you have the time to post your definitions. I think they’re very pertinent. It is a difficult task. I think what I hear from the different definitions, it is very clear that this is a highly multidimensional concept and also depends a bit on who you ask, how European digital sovereignty is defined.

Roberto in opening remarks outlined the historic amount of initiatives in the European Union with regards to the DSA, DMA, the Data Act, the Data Governance Act, and there are other acts, the European Digital Rights, principles, there are initiatives in the Council of Europe, other regional, international organizations, bilateral initiatives and other international efforts in that regard that all influence somehow European digital sovereignty. I would like to now start to dig a bit deeper in this concept and to really talk about what is specific about European digital sovereignty and maybe the first question in that regard, it is one point I would like to ask the lead discussants to think about, it is what exactly is specific about European digital sovereignty, is there a consensus that is emerging on what it means exactly how this defines, and the areas that are contention among different stakeholders – that are contentious among different stakeholders and how this differs on theories and visions and more and more to concrete actions. I would like to take the order of the initiative and ask can you briefly describe this move from principles to action with regard to European digital sovereignty? Maybe can I ask you the question, is there consensus on the concept of European digital sovereignty in the Commission, among Member States and in the European Parliament?

>> WERNER STENGG: Yeah. The questions are not getting easier as we move on.

First of all, Alberto referred to this already, there is a lot of action actually. In this Commission, in this digital strategy that we’re bringing forward, there is probably more activity than ever before especially when it comes to digital. Right.

Everything that he gave us examples, it is a manifestation of this, whether it is more the strategies, the declarations of Rights and Principles, more of the intellectual work and the framing of this. You have also then a lot of investment related activities where we are saying it is not just about talking about European capabilities but we have the digital compact in our 2030 targets, where do we want to invest in skills, infrastructures, this, that, the other.

Then we have the whole regulatory framework which is there, in order to make sure that this entire transformation takes place against the background of European values and norms.

There is always this sort of pro digital transformation making the best of the opportunities of digital technologies while at the same time safeguarding European values.

What is so European about it, if we talk about values, of course you would always have discussions, you know, when you ask about consensus or this agreement. If we say in tune with European norms and values, you could have endless discussions and conferences like this one for all of to us agree on what it actually means. You would find in the legal framework things that make it more democratic, for instance. I think Francesca Bria referred to this in her definition, she said that it is as a society we define the direction of the digital transformation. This is what we’re trying to do in the Digital Services Act, the Digital Market Act, we said we want democratically elected institutions to set the rules of the game and private companies, deciding who does what, wins, loses, in this digital world, that it is democratically legitimized rules and that you can also enforce the existing laws so that there is one aspect if you want.

There is huge consensus on this one. You just saw the negotiation, Member States, they’re unanimously voted in favor of the platform regulation which is incredibly ambitious. It was far reaching ambitious, yet unanimity, parliament also, all in favor, wanted more. Yeah. But not less.

If you talk about the spending part, you probably have people that are more looking to Europe to be super independent, to do it all on its own to something Europe should be stronger but remaining open to the global environment working with like-minded nations out there. There you would always have discussions across Europe naturally on whether sovereignty is an inward looking dimension, let’s become totally independent from the rest of the world and they become stronger, more resilient and insist on the values, but still be an active participant in the broader global debate.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you very much. I know this is, of course, a complex question to answer. It also shows the fundamental importance, it touches the essence of European digital politics and the future of Europe. In that regard, I want to come to Francesca Bria. You have been very vocal on the so-called third way that Europe should go with regard to the digital sovereignty. I would like to ask you if you can describe a bit what you mean by this concept and also I would like to ask you the question, to elaborate a bit more, European sovereignty, as we heard, it is a matter of values, rights, it is a matter of competitiveness and innovation. What role does innovation play in European digital sovereignty, what role do funds and of other countries play in this regard and the European tech champions initiative, it is a massive 10 billion euro fund ever funds, maybe you can tell us more about the two factors.

>> FRANCESCA BRIA: Absolutely.

First of all, I have been framing the concept of digital sovereignty very much, putting democracy at the very centre of it in fact.

Today we have two dominant model, let’s say for the future of the digital society. On one side we have the big tech model, let’s say based mainly in Silicon Valley that had defined this sort of surveillance, the capitalism, it has been defined as surveillance capitalism, bullets say the big tech model. On the other side, we have seen the so-called big state model, very much resembling the kind of digital, it is coming from China, for example. I have been vocal about saying that Europe has to provide a third way which is big democracy, so putting forward our own way of digital sovereignty that must be rooted in the Constitutional Rights of citizens protecting their Constitutional framework, the right to privacy, the right to information and determination but also broadly, yes, democracy, the rule of law, citizens’ participation.

This is the kind of overarching framework. I think because Europe has been an ambitious to define first of all a new digital Constitutional limp, so what Werner Stengg described as the fundamental regulatory framework that Europe is advancing, this should not be underestimated. It is a really good progress. We have a set of rules. The Digital Market Act, the Digital Service Act, the data act, Artificial Intelligence Act, the GDPR that I think can become a model for the entire world and I imagine to become a de facto standard on, you know, protecting people’s rights but also fostering innovation and competitiveness. Really making sure that digitalization can help us strive, you know, in this world.

This is not enough. We know that to be seen as the big E.U. regulatory power of the digital age is not enough. We need to go beyond that, and the first thing I think, it is combining the digital Constitutionalism with a very strong innovation and digital industrial policy. That’s where it comes to the next generation, a lot of investment. Let’s remind here, we’re investing 25% of the resilience and recovery plan, next generation, it is around 400 billion that Europe will invest in the Digital Transformation which links very strongly with the E.U. Green Deal, by the way, because what I said at the beginning, as a society, we should give a direction to the technological transformation, it means also we have to put at the service of people on one side and also of the decarbonizing the economy of the Green Deal, of the protection of the environment.

I think that’s where we also need to show that we can compete on technological and scientific innovation. That’s where we also have to be able to grow our technology champions. Our technology champions that will be able to develop European technologies in critical sectors like, you know, biotech, healthcare technologies, but also the fundamental, the public digital infrastructures that Europe is developing, like a digital ID system, the digital payment system, maybe a digital euro, this will provide the architecture of a kind of European digital market that we provide on one side companies to grow and on the other side citizens to be fully, you know, to have fully their rights, their citizenship rights in the digital age. Just to finally get to the point of innovation, the European innovation Council for the first time set up its own venture capital fund, which I think is very positive.

We need, of course, to create an E.U. wide market for the stake taking equity and also with uniform rules across Europe and big investment from the public sector that can leverage also private investments.

For example, the Italian innovation fund now has 5 billion euros to invest in the start-ups, in the innovation ecosystem and also in Technology Transfer to link better our research centres, our excellent research, to make them scale, make our companies scale.

This is very important. We have to have the European technology also when it comes to, for example, Smart City, when it comes to digital indication, digital healthcare, it is important to have our own digital ecosystem. Finally, it was said very strongly, it is not enough just to compete with the models that we see out there. I think what we have to make sure, it is that we are not defending the European incumbent only. You know. We’re making the European digital champions of the future growing, but we’re also really rooting this critique to the big tech companies and dominate position and market power today with the need to protect the rights of citizens, protect democracy and to protect our social market economy. This is the future of Europe. For me, this is very much at the core of the future vision of Europe.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you very much.

I want to go directly to Alberto Di Felice. Alberto Di Felice, Digital Europe represents 36,000 businesses who operate in Europe, some are E.U. businesses, others are including major U.S. companies.

How do your members perceive the vision and enforcement of the European digital sovereignty and maybe to ask another question, is it good or bad for business?

>> ALBERTO DI FELICE: When it comes to sovereignty, there is a lot of definitions, you asked earlier if there is consensus. The reality is, there is no consensus which probably shows that it is a very problematic sort of term. Matter of fact, if I go back to my University years, everything that’s related to social sciences, it sort of tells us that the use of the term sovereignty is usually suspect. It can be easily appropriated by anybody for very clear either overt, hidden political reasons. You will find that democracies talk about sovereignty and also non-democratic regimes talk about sovereignty pretty easily.

That is one of the reasons why I would argue it is not a very – at best it is a misnomer for something else that would mean to say, but we summarize it by saying sovereignty. I think one of the interesting aspects of this, it is that the discussion about sovereignty started largely referring to what Francesca Bria had referred to, the fight against tech, this perception that Europe has been largely lagging behind in terms of digital – the wave of consumer digitalization of the consumer life, if you will, and that we’re all being held slave by big U.S. corporations.

This is a narrative that goes back a couple of decades I would say. The narrative is that we haven’t been sovereign in our own home. I think what we mean to say, quite frankly, you know, frankly, we have always been sovereign. Europe has always had its own rules and the power to enforce its own rules. Maybe what we mean to say, is that all of a sudden we realized that our rules were no longer adequate. We wanted to change our rules, which is a good discussion that we should have.

It is the same discussion that’s happening even though in very different political systems, also in the U.S. as well. It is not geopolitical acquisitions in this sense between Silicon Valley and Europe, but it is a discussion about the future of what capitalism should be, what social discourse should be. That should be an open discussion, open democratic societies. That’s something we should be discussing together. Matter of fact, we’re discussing these issues with the U.S., there is a trade and technology Council that had has streams on all of these issue, including issues that where Europe has, you know, done something very specific about sovereignty for lack of a better word, which is as Francesca Bria herself was saying, you know, what we do usually at first is we regulate, we have this big state, regulation, we have this by design approach of regulating unlike other geographies and therefore we like to put in place rules and then I think we’ll have to say how well the rules are working. Right now we’re very excited because again we like to complain about the fact that we’re not sovereign. For example, there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the general data protection, there is a feeling it hasn’t been enforced enough and that’s why we need to write new rules. We need to reform competition law under the guise of new platform regulation, we need to do AI regulation, we need to do data regulation, Data Governance Act because we need new rules. This is the usual approach of, you know, putting in place a new system because the old system is not working. We’re very excited because there’s a promise that all of this with work and let’s see in a few years whether the expectations can be met or whether we’ll still be complaining about lack of sovereignty.

There’s a lot of tensions and impulses I would say in the definition of sovereignty.

I think what we need to do collectively, particularly from a business perspective, you alluded to it, it is that ultimately we need something that allows this whole narrative about sovereignty to actually generate economic and social wellbeing. We want to converge around the narrative that allows companies in Europe, especially I would say European companies to benefit from digitalization. We want European companies to grow in a single market, to still have huge challenges with letting our own companies grow within the single market. Probably not focusing as much as removing the existing barriers in a single market, we’re focusing a lot on the geopolitical narrative, on finding the big enemy, the U.S., et cetera, and, you know, that’s probably less helpful for the vast majority of companies that we want to grow.

Obviously, we need to engage in a global dimension, because it is no secret, we’re in Italy, you know, most famous Italian brands, this is a non-tech sector, the biggest market for them, it is the biggest markets, they’re elsewhere. We can easily expect the biggest market, it is already true today. The biggest market for European company, usually tends to be a non-European market but we have to make sure that whatever we do we’re not creating the infamous garden walls around how we do digitalization in Europe. That would be harmful to our companies and to our own ability to actually tell the rest of the world, bring the rest of the world along to do things similarly to how I would do things.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you so much.

What a rich diversity ever perspectives to frame this topic of digital sovereignty.

Finally, I would like to come to you now, Fanny Hidvegi, to ask you the question, access now, it is highly engaged in a lot of European discussions in that regard and you yourself, you are also very involved and put yourself forth as artificial intelligence especially, what’s European digital sovereignty meant for fundamental rights, what is the view of the access, to The Rights organizations on this concept, and I would like to ask you the specific question, are there different impacts on rights if we talk about digital sovereignty for competitiveness, for online content, for data, for AI, for chips, what is your view on this topic?

>> FANNY HIDVEGI: Thank you.

So let me start by saying that exactly for those reasons I would like to push back a little bit on this digital sovereignty framing because if you look at who uses the narrative of sovereignty even within Europe, let’s say, it is not – it is not the examples that we would want to follow on the European level. I’m from Hungary, it is easy for me to point to the nationalized protection narrative of the government and how they use the language of sovereignty. Obviously, there are other problems of geographical limitations versus the Internet infrastructure with this term and I find it a little bit like maybe not misleading but the vagueness allows everyone to Cherry pick for whatever they want to use it as an argument for.

We could talk about data protection, we could talk about dataflows, we could talk about cybersecurity, national cybersecurity, diplomatic trade, et cetera, we have seen for instance in the French presidency how the digital sovereignty was also an idea of the value of data, of the political commodity and I understand, of course, the political reality of how data transfer discussions are being used, but Human Rights considerations should not be bargaining chips and instead of the sovereignty narrative we should continue on the basis of what we have, the fundamental rights framework is more than just values. Thankfully, they’re enshrined in the charter and in the internal European sense, the E.U. sense, more precisely, one enforcement problem we see on this baseline level, it is that we all know that the European Commission is the guardian of the treaty, but it doesn’t have the strongest record of enforcing these basic rights and values, again Hungary, Poland, the usual example, we have let those governments way too far and this is really beyond control now.

You mentioned – panelists mentioned a couple of E.U. initiatives where the European Commission is put in a shape or form as a centralized enforcer because we see all of these national Member State problems and while I understand some level of centralization and what we’re trying to solve, I think it is naive to think that putting the provision Commission, that – by the way, it is not an independent authority, to put the European Commission in the centre of all of these regulatory frameworks, we will somehow avoid addressing the problems in the national levels.

I would also add, access now does not only operate in Europe, but that as we face these really serious challenges internally, I’m not sure how we can have the arrogance both in the United States and the European Union to tell the rest of the world how democracy should look like. It is not a narrative that’s taken well outside these bubbles.

For me, sovereignty in addition to the nationalist view and how it can be used for government surveillance, for instance, I would say there is an issue with investments as well because as we discussed, of course, there is a need for investment and innovation and Digital Transformation. The unchecked nature of it allows situations with a combination of the sovereignty surveillance narrative, it allows for situation, especially the migration context that there are E.U. funded projects that are well reported, how they violate Human Rights. And for most of you, I think they’re not new, one famous example is the I border control concept, it facilitates border controls in airports and it has a use of an automatic “lie detector”, another example, it is the things that have been in the news lately.

I would recommend one very clear action that we could take, that addresses at once in a way all of the dimensions if there would be a European and hopefully a global moratorium on the transfer sale and the use of cyber technologies. It is a great hook for today’s hearing in the European Parliaments inquiry Committee where you could also see the general council of the groups speaking. I can only recommend watching that.

Just reminder for the non-European audience, unfortunately in the European Parliament, the speakers are not proper witnesses, not under oath, so you can hear probably a lot of – well, not just lie, but probably blatant lies and we’ll see what the hear willing get us.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: I wish we had a few hours to break these comments that were just made. Unfortunately, I have looked at the time, we have a bit less than 10 minutes left.

I would like to sort of ask a final question, ask you and for a very quick answer, like in the first round of question, one, two sentence R we going in the right direction with regards to European digital sovereignty? I would then like to open up the floor for all participants on site and in the chat to contribute, maybe to also try to answer this question very briefly and to take the floor.

Are we going in the right direction?

>> FANNY HIDVEGI: So as an objective like blue sky vision, as I said, for me, it wouldn’t be European digital sovereignty, the end goal that we should March for. It is hard for me to answer if it is the right direction or not.

From a fundamental rights perspective, I do think that while we have to improve the enforcement of both existing and incoming legal frameworks I do think the data protection reform, the platform regulation reform, the Digital Services Act, the Digital Market Act, hopefully the AI Act in the future, it is a direction where Human Rights are fundamental rights, they’re at the centre. So I think the answer is yes, but only on the narrower digital. Sense, if that even makes sense at this stage.

Where I don’t see a positive direction, I don’t see a positive change in that regard at all unfortunately.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you very much.

Are we going in the right direction?

>> ALBERTO DI FELICE: So Paul, I like – I’m not going to say yes. I’ll probably be the only person on the panel to say no. That’s for a simple reason, in the sense that there is knows negative impulses along the way that we always have to be attentive to.

There is a protectionist onside to sovereignty that could be very damaging and it could show up in all of the initiatives that have been mentioned in the implementation, as we’re writing the newer rules that I think we need to gathered against, again for the very basic reason that there will be consequences on the economy.

Sovereignty can pretty quickly get real. Right now it is ethereal, part of the political cycle. Once we see what the rules mean in practice for our companies then, you know, we need to make sure there is no negative repercussions on the economy. We need to be alert. That’s why I would rather say no than being too optimistic and say yes.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you very much.

Francesca Bria, are we going in the right direction?

>> FRANCESCA BRIA: Yeah. So here I would be saying different things. I think, yes, absolutely we’re going into the right direction. We can be more ambitious and it is right now, I think the moment to be very ambitious. Because we are going in the right direction, and for me, I don’t see any kind of protectionism from the E.U.

Actually, we have demonstrated during the pandemic with our leadership on vaccines, how to make sure that we could transfer technology, for example, to Africa, to the Global South, and we have been pulling together this historical movement, going in the direction of creating more Europe, more democracy, not less Europe and less democracy. Now we’re dealing with a very difficult situation of course with the war, with inflation, with scarcity of raw material and with prices skyrocketing, for example, very positively on any E.U. energy policy that I think it will be fundamental because I think the Green Deal and the digital transition are absolutely linked. One can be the underpinning for the other. We’re trying to set a new vision and we’re also charting a global framework, not a kind of protection, closed framework, for example, Europe is very active in proposing regulation when it comes to taxation, digital privacy, cybersecurity, sustainability globally. We engage with like-minded countries and we are active in global diplomacy. I don’t see this kind of, you know, looking inward and problem with protectionism.

What I want to see, Europe taking – becoming much more ambitious, saying, yes, we’re capable of creating next generation innovation ecosystem that will be based on sustainable business models. We’re going to invest in acceleration technologies improving our society because if we want to also make sure that our social market economy, that this will be about rethinking our transportation industry, rethinking healthcare, rethinking education, rethinking how we design our citizen public spaces. It is really about, you know, critical infrastructure so that underpinning essential services and essential, you know, that provide access to people.

I think it is a fundamental moment. I want to be optimistic. You know, we are moving in the right direction and we have never had so much investment. We also have the means now to make sure that the money will end up in the right places and we will be able to implement the vision. It shouldn’t just be regulations that are really important, they should also become concrete projects and concrete companies that can scale. We have the moment now. I think we should all work together. Also here, I think that the alliance is here between the businesses, the Human Rights, the experts, the academics, people working on innovation and of course the European Commission and Member States, it is absolutely important. I’m more for less digital alliances and let’s move in the right direction. It is now the moment to make it happen.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you very much.

Last but not least, Werner, are we moving in the right direction?

>> WERNER STENGG: I will start. It would be funny to say we should reconsider what the direction actually means. I would not answer the question now that we’re going in the right direction towards technological sovereignty because as Alberto, others said, we may disagree on what it actually means. So it is hard to say whether we’re going in the right direction if we don’t know what that means.

I would technically agree with the positive analysis of some of the copanelists that our digital strategy and policy is coming in the right direction. Let’s forget about the digital sovereignty. I said it is about citizens, it is about governments, about businesses, and I think we’re going in the right direction. We have a much stronger human-centric digital policy than we have ever had before giving greater control to citizens and governments representing them. This whole democratic oversight point of view, rule setting point of view, but we’re also going in the right direction as far as the pro-innovation objectives are concerned. Here I agree, Alberto, we have never engaged more, the digital programme, the connectivity to microchips, clouds, this, that, the other, the resilience programme, 26% going to digital on average. So a lot of investment in infrastructures and skills and transformation, plus a regulatory framework that we consider to be conducive to innovation because it is based on this single market. All of these acts from the digital services act to AI, to data, we want one set of rules across Europe. You can discuss along with if it is good enough, proportionate enough, there is Saturday of rules, certainty, a single market, with this combination of human-centric vision and strategic direction, and on the ground investments in capabilities, plus the legal framework conducive to regulation, I think we’re going in the right direction.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Thank you so much. We’re just getting warm I think.

Unfortunately, we’re out of time. I wanted to still take some comments from the other participants. Cot master of ceremony tell me if this is still possible or if we have to close this Plenary session.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: Unfortunately, we have to close the Plenary session. Unfortunately we cannot take any questions from the floor right now.

I apologize.

>> PAUL FEHLINGER: Please, if I may ask you, this has been such a rich discussion, I think it provokes so much among all of you, the chat is open, if you could use it as a forum to write on your thoughts. I know the Rapporteurs will look at the chat as well and take into account your views and your reactions. Thank you so much to the panelists. This has been fascinating, this discussion, on such a fundamental topic that showed how important it is to have this discussion about what the essence of European digital sovereignty is, what we mean by it and how we translate from the vicious into more actions.

Thank you so much.

I very much am looking forward to the next sessions on this topic because as I said in the beginning, this has been a theme setting and now we’ll have two more sessions on the technical dimension and the international enter connected dimension of digital sovereignty.

Thank you so much. A round of applause for our great speakers, please.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: Thank you so much for your comments.

We will now go into the second session.

Any information that you have about the different sessions is available on EuroDIG Wiki and you’re welcome to join into the chat if you would like to.

At this moment in time, we’re going to go into the next session on topic two, Digital Sovereignty impact on the Internet infrastructure. We have an on-site moderator.

We’ll give a couple of minutes and then start the next session.

Thank you very much.