Friends of Europe’s work on digital and data governance in 2022 will continue to reinforce their essential role in ensuring Europe is successful, green and resilient. Digitalisation will only continue to increase in importance over the years to come: the EU’s recovery and resilience funding will be implemented, and the recommendations from the Conference on the Future of Europe will be launched in the spring of 2022. There will be a dedicated effort to implement the EU’s policy ambition of a ‘Digital Decade’, and the first indications of how member states are coupling a green transition with digitalisation will be made apparent. Europe’s footprint in space will be a crucial element of Europe’s green, digital transition, and the first European Space Summit planned for February 2022 will further define Europe’s ambitions in space over the next decade and beyond.
Depending on the continuity of virus mutations in 2022, digital infrastructure and its capacity, reach, quality, access and affordability will affect our lives across a number of areas from education, health, government, jobs, skills and SME transitions to new models of delivery, the digitalisation of cities, the creation of mechanisms to sustain climate shocks and recover from them, and people’s sense of connection with their family, friends, communities and wider society. Who governs the digital space and how it is used, managed and developed will be key in terms of transparency, standards and people’s rights. Innovation brings new promises for all citizens, but challenges such as algorithm bias must be managed.
Through Friends of Europe’s Making Space Matter initiative, we will also explore the crucial role of space in both digital innovation and climate change mitigation. Space exploration, competition, infrastructure and its role as a new market will prove to be defining issues for our planet over the next decade and beyond. Europe has the capacity and skills – as well as the appetite – to play an important role in this area. Such leadership, however, can only be maintained through further investment in the EU’s space programme and by boosting governance, cooperation and societal empowerment.
How people live their lives and can do so in an environment, a culture and a public regulatory framework that has the interests of the citizen at its heart will be further underpinned in our overall approach to digitalisation and data governance in 2022 and 2023.