The European Union kick-started Digital Day 2018 in Brussels, Belgium yesterday. Ministers, representative of several EU countries, academicians, industry experts, and prominent representatives of civil society have come together to encourage cooperation in the field of blockchain, artificial intelligence, innovation and eHealth.
Notably, the EU, which launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum in February 2018, aims to lay the groundwork for establishing a European Blockchain Partnership that will result in the successful implementation of €300 million worth projects based on blockchain technology.
Last year’s Digital Day event was conducted in Rome. The event brought together member of the EU to successfully cooperate in areas such as high-performance computing, digitization of industry, and connected mobility.
This year, the Commission is repeating the initiative to ensure heightened cooperation on digital issues.
Digital Single Market
In particular, discussions will focus on how the technological advancements will shape the future of Europe. The event will also stress the need to build a strong Digital Single Market with increased investment and crucial requirements digital skills.
In the past one year, major progress has been made towards a Digital Single Market. This includes the end of roaming charges and portability of online content. This year, protection of personal data and the first EU-wide rules on cybersecurity will become a reality by May 2018.
Last year’s focus
In Digital Day 2017, the focus was on the following issues:
- Ministers signed a declaration to establish Europe as a global player in high-performance computing, which led to accelerated European cooperation on supercomputers with the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking in January 2018.
- 29 European countries signed a letter of intent to establish, together with the Commission, a legal framework for cross-border trials in connected driving, which led to several large-scale testing corridors being announced in September 2017.
- The Commission launched a European platform on digitizing industry to connect national initiatives; it helped develop a network of Digital Innovation Hubs across Europe and encourage public-private cooperation.
- The Commission initiated the Digital Opportunities traineeship programme, which led to the launch of the cross-border traineeship initiative in December 2017. The first traineeships are expected to start this summer.
- The Commission presented an updated European Interoperability Framework, which was enshrined in the egovernment Ministerial Declaration 2017 and is considered as the roadmap for the digitalisation of public administrations.
Digital Day 2018 aims the following declarations
- Artificial intelligence (AI): AI can bring major benefits to society and economy, such as better health care, safer transport and a more competitive industry. To fully benefit from the opportunities offered by AI, the Commission aims to bring the European countries together and ensure the use of highest standards of data protection.
- Blockchain technologies: The European Commission recently launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum in February 2018 and will invest some €300 million in projects supporting the use of blockchain. In order to harness the many opportunities of blockchain and avoid a fragmented approach, the Commission aims to lay the groundwork for establishing a European Blockchain Partnership to promote interoperable infrastructures that will enhance trusted digital services.
- Healthcare: The eHealth declaration aims at linking access to existing and future genomic databases across the European Union, which will help to advance research in rare diseases, cancer, pharmacogenomics, disease prevention, brain related diseases and other conditions. Enhanced cooperation between Member States will help to overcome the lack of interoperability and fragmentation of initiatives across the EU, while guaranteeing highest European standards for personal data protection. This will also keep the EU at the forefront of personalized medicine globally, fostering scientific output and industrial competitiveness.
- Encouraging innovation: The Innovation Radar, an online tool, can help match innovators with those who can help get their innovations to market. During Digital Day 2018, the Commission will encourage the cooperation for supporting breakthrough innovations in Europe. The initiative also aims to develop the online tool further and enrich it with top national innovation projects.
- 5G cross-border testing: A first set of large-scale testing corridors was announced in September 2017. In this regard, Spain and Portugal will sign a Memorandum of Understanding to kick-start their cooperation.
Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said
“Europeans are starting to feel the benefits of the Digital Single Market on the ground. They can now travel across borders with their favourite video and music streaming services – and with no roaming charges. Soon geoblocking when shopping online will be a distant memory. Our personal data will be better protected as of 25 May. This year’s Digital Day is the perfect moment to recognize what we have achieved, but to also encourage EU Member States to move forward quickly with the legislative proposals still on the table. We need to prepare our digital future together; we need to do more, joining forces and resources to grasp the opportunities offered by technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain.”
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said
“Digitalisation is transforming our society and we can reap its full benefits only through close and fruitful cooperation. Coordinated EU-level commitment and investments are much needed to tackle the challenges ahead. I expect Digital Day 2018 to bring the digital cooperation in Europe to a new level regarding artificial intelligence as well as eHealth, and I encourage all EU Member States and stakeholders to contribute to our efforts to keep Europe a global player in the digital age.”