Digital Assembly 2019: new actions on quantum, EU-Africa taskforce report and digital start-ups

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(Franck V., Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today , the 8th edition of the Digital Assembly is taking place in Bucharest, Romania. The event, co-organised by the Commission and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will bring together representatives of EU Member States with stakeholders from industry, academia and civil society. Discussions will focus on what is needed to accelerate the digital transformation and ensure that the EU remains globally competitive. Three key initiatives will be featured: first, a joint declaration by several Member States to work together to build a quantum communication infrastructure (QCI); second, the adoption of the final report by the European Union – African Union Digital Economy Task Force with policy recommendations and concrete actions to strengthen cooperation on digital issues between the two continents; and, third, a new investment facility to scale up digital start-ups in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe 

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “Digitalisation is a key driver of progress not only in Europe, but also in Africa. That is why, as part of the Africa-Europe Alliance, we are working with partners across both continents to develop policies that will best enable us to harness the power of technology to boost investment, create jobs and contribute to sustainable development. Today we are recommending concrete policies and actions to enhance the future digital cooperation of Africa and Europe.”

Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel, added: “Over the past few years we have worked tirelessly to advance the Digital Single Market which brings tangible achievements for Europe’s citizens and businesses. We have demonstrated that opting for an EU approach is the only way to face, together, evolving challenges and succeed the digital transformation. The Digital Assembly is our key event where we will discuss future digital opportunities and political priorities and renew our commitments based on our common values.”

More specifically, the following key initiatives will be highlighted during the Digital Assembly 2019:

  • A new ultra-secure quantum communication network: several EU countries will declare their commitment to work together in order to build a quantum communication infrastructure (QCI) that will enable information and data to be transmitted and stored in a fully secure manner as well as integrate quantum technologies and systems into conventional communication infrastructures. As a result it will boost Europe’s capabilities in cybersecurityquantum technologies and industrial competitiveness, keeping pace with its global competitors. 
  • Adoption of the report on the digital economy partnership for Africa-Europe: the European Union – African Union Digital Economy Task Force (DETF) will adopt its report with policy recommendations and concrete actions to strengthen cooperation on digital issues between the two continents. The DETF is one of the task forces established as part of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobslaunched by President Juncker in his 2018 State of the Union Address
  • New investment facility to scale up digital start-ups in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe:the European Commission together with the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the World Bank and the International Financial Corporation will launch the Digital Innovation and Scale-up Initiative (DISI). This will be the first regional investment facility that specifically targets digital innovations and the scale-up of digital start-ups in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. 

Background

In 2015 the European Commission adopted the Digital Single Market strategy to make the most of digital opportunities in Europe. Just four years later citizens and businesses can benefit from 35 new digital rights and freedoms, includingthe abolition of roaming charges when traveling abroad, enhanced cybersecurity, and more opportunities for online shopping across borders.

The Digital Assembly offers the opportunity to look ahead, in the light of the Commission’s proposal for a Digital Europe programme for 2021-2027. The latter aims to reinforce Europe’s strategic digital capacities, with a particular focus on supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills, and ensuring a wide use of digital capacity across the economy and society.

During last year’s edition of the Digital Assembly the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans was launched with the aim of supporting the transition of the region into a digital economy and helping to generate faster economic growth, more jobs, and better services.

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