The six-month French Presidency of the Council of the European Union ends 30 June. Per tradition, France hosted one last digital session this week, Digital Assembly 2022: A closer look into the digital future. France has been a very active proponent of digital sovereignty at the national and European levels for the past three years. The Digital Assembly was one of the last formal opportunities for France to promote its vision of sovereignty at the helm of the council.
French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire considered digital sovereignty “highly strategic for the continent” in his opening remarks at the conference. He pointed to four pillars: innovation (“support the emergence of 10-20 European champions”); regulation (welcoming the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act); protection including against cyberattacks; and resilience including by lowering Europe’s dependency on computer chips. Le Maire also doubled down on the “need to have a European cloud that is fully sovereign,” using technical tools such as certification to “ensure Europe does not depend on American and extra-community players.”
As the Czech Republic prepares to take over the Council Presidency 1 July, the European Commission is planning to unveil several new initiatives and reports:
- 5 July - European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager will present "A New European Innovation Agenda."
- 13 July - European Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová will unveil the 2022 Rule of Law Report 13.
- 13 September - Jourová will present the European Media Freedom Act.
- 21 September - The European Cyber Resilience Act is expected.
- 28 September - The initiative adapting liability rules to the digital age and artificial intelligence is expected.
Well, that should hold us for a while.
Another noteworthy session was last week’s European Data Protection Supervisor conference on “Effective enforcement in the digital age.” The "who’s-who" of European regulators and civil society were there, and many international regulators brought a nice global vibe to the event. Some of the session recordings are online, and many attendees — including yours truly — have amply covered the debates on social media. So rather than doing a poor job at listing the many things that were said (or shouted, in some cases), I will highlight the topics that seemed to come up the most often:
- The recent Vienna statement from the European Data Protection Board to enforcement cooperation.
- The need in Europe to identify and remove obstacles to cross-border enforcement and cooperation among data protection authorities stemming from differences in procedural laws among the Member States.
- Big Tech remains in the minds of many as the enforcement target posterchild; many voices suggested that it should not all be about enforcement and instead be about compliance. To that, the handful of DPOs attending asked, “how can we be part of the solution?” Not sure that got a lot to chew on, but the conversation continues.
Speaking of places where we have great conversations, registration for IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress in Brussels is open! We hope to see many of you there!
Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos on Unsplash
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