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This month there are several new subjects to be highlighted: The Digital Services Act proposal is agreed, a new proposal on EU Health Data Space is put on the table, the EP committees published its draft report on AI legislation, ETNO opened a battle with big platforms on network investment and bandwidth overconsumption, the EP adopted its position on common charger for electronic devices, and the ongoing war and announcements of new sanctions and measures. It all looks very much like the picture above, a stack of wired and connected elements. If you pull one part it gets more chaotic and messed up. Just as it will take time to introduce a common charger it will take time to unravel all the different threads we are currently coping with – at once it seems - and adopt a new direction of travel. Looking forward to further discuss with you all these different developments and issues at our DIGIWorld upcoming Commissions and events. If you wish any additional information or like to explore any of the issues more in-depth, please contact me.

Digital Services Act (DSA) – EU reach political agreement

The European Parliament and Council representatives reached an political agreement on the DSA negotiations (Trilogue). The proposed legislation covers a broad range of areas such as content moderation, advertising, interface design and also data access.  Changes compared to the Commission’s initial proposal include bringing search engines within scope, prohibiting the application of dark patterns, restrict certain forms of targeted advertising, and strengthening obligations for marketplaces. The Commission will have exclusive powers to supervise very large players, and will also have the power to require them to take specific measures in case of threats to public security or health.

The DSA will enter into force four or six months after its publication for VLOPs (very large online platforms), and after 15 months or on 1 January 2024 for all others. The final confirmation in Council and EP is likely to happen before the summer. The EP wishes for a simultaneous adoption of the DSA and DMA in plenary in July.  EC’s press release can be read here.

EU Health Data Space – New regulatory proposal

The European Commission proposed a new regulation Proposal for a Regulation on the European Health Data Space  aimed at digitalizing health care across the EU and increasing access to health care-related data.  The Commission is proposing two separate health data infrastructures — one which will be available to researchers and health care professionals for the purpose of research, the other aimed at citizens.  It will allow EU citizens to have immediate, and easy access to the data in electronic form, free of charge, in any Member State of the EU. Citizens can easily share these data with other health professionals in and across Member States to improve health care delivery.  It fosters a genuine single market for digital health services and products.  It offers a consistent, trustworthy and efficient framework to use health data for research, innovation, policy-making and regulatory activities, while ensuring full compliance with the EU’s high data protection standards. The proposal will now be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament.  The legislative proposal is accompanied by a Communication A European Health Data Space: Harnessing the power of health data for people, patients and innovation

Further information can be found in this conversation with Ioana-Maria Gligor (Head of Unit in DG SANTE, responsible for European Reference Networks and Digital Health) and Andrzej Rys (Director Health Systems, Medical Products & Innovation at DG Santé) from the European Commission.

Artificial Intelligence – EP committee issue draft report

The European Parliament’s co-rapporteurs finalised their draft report on artificial intelligence (AI) addressing the areas where they have found common ground. The most controversial issues will be discussed later in the committees.  The main rapporteurs are: the liberal Dragoș Tudorache (Committee on Civil Rights) and the Social Democrat Brando Benifei (Committee on Consumer Protection).  In addition to LIBE and IMCO, the JURI Committee has jurisdiction in the matter as well. MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) unveiled his draft report on the AI law.

The draft report (LIBE & IMCO) is due to be examined by the two parliamentary committees on 11 May. The committees are scheduled to vote on the final text on 26 or 27 October, followed by a plenary vote on 9 November.

Separate from the legislative work, the European Parliament also adopted the final recommendations (AI Roadmap) of its Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA).

Network Information Security (NIS2) – EU close to final agreement

The French Presidency is confident to reach an agreement on the NIS2 Directive at the next political trilogue in May. Issues that are still open for discussion are: governance, peer review mechanism, cybersecurity certification and the exclusion clause.

The compromise text is based on the Parliament’s position and requires that a cyber-attack or ransomware that compromises the availability of an essential service be reported within 24 hours. For any other incident such as the confidentiality of a network or the integrity of the data in possession of the organisation, the deadline would be 72 hours.

STOA event on cybersecurity

The European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) organised April 26thhigh-level roundtable on cybersecurity. The event discussed the most recent European proposals to tackle cybersecurity challenges such as the revision of the NIS Directive, the Critical Entities Resilience Directive, the Proposal for a Joint Cyber Unit and the expected Cybersecurity Resilience Act. You can replay the web stream here.

The European Science Media Hub (ESMH) spoke with one of the speakers Juhan Lepassaar, executive Director of the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), on what cyber attacks entail and what ENISA is doing to combat them.  You can read the interview here.

Common Chargers – EP adopted its position

The European Parliament agreed MEP A. Saliba’s report on harmonized common chargers for portable electronic devices. The Commission proposal covers mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones, headsets, handheld videogame consoles, and portable speakers. MEPs want to add e-readers, low-powered laptops, keyboards, mice, earbuds and electronic toys.

For wireless charging, an evaluation is planned for 2026. (EP press releaseEP headlines)

CSAM (Child online protection) – EC proposal expected in May

Ms. Cathrin Bauer-Bulst, head of unit for the fight against cybercrime and child sexual abuse stated at an Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) event that the EC proposal to combat child abuse content on the Internet, is expected on 11 May.  The European Commission will probably propose a limited set of obligations rather than opting for a purely voluntary approach. It will require a very careful balancing act between the general monitoring obligation prohibition and other rights and interests. The EC will also set up a future European centre tasked with fighting child abuse that will have the responsibility of reviewing the reports coming in from service providers and ensure follow-up. The organisation could have an EU-wide database of digital fingerprints (hashes)of images identified as illegal under EU law.

ETNO study – Tech Giants should  contribute to network investments

ETNO, the European Telecom operators lobby, published a study “Europe’s internet ecosystem: socioeconomic benefits of a fairer balance between tech giants and telecom operators”

stating that the top tech giants (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Netflix) accounted for 55% of online traffic last year. All without contributing financially, or little, to the development of national networks, in which operators have invested more than 500 billion euros over the past ten years.

The study estimates that the traffic generated by the major content providers generate an annual cost for operators ranging from 36 to 40 billion euros per year. The document mentions a contribution of 20 billion per year via a mechanism promoting “direct agreements with operators”.

European Commission EVP Margrethe Vestager confirmed work is underway to assess whether and how tech giants should make a fair contribution to telecoms networks “we see that there are players who generate a lot of traffic that then enable their business, but they have not been contributing…to enable the investments in the rollout of connectivity”.

Christian Borggreen, vice-president of the CCIA, the tech giant lobby reacted that “operators are already paid by their customers” and accuses them of wanting to “double their revenues by charging content and service providers for traffic, despite Europe’s long-standing commitment to net neutrality”.

Telecommunications Code – EU Commission takes 10 Member States to CJEU

The European Commission has taken Spain, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully implement the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) and for failing to notify the Commission of how national measures are implemented (see COM press release).

5G in Italy – EC signs off 2bn € state aid scheme

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €2 billion Italian scheme made available through the Recovery and Resilience Facility (‘RRF’) to roll out high-performing 5G mobile networks.  The measure will finance the deployment of: (i) performant backhaul networks to connect the mobile base stations that by 2026 will not have a performant one; and (ii) the necessary base stations to provide 5G mobile services offering speeds of at least 150 Mbps download and 30 Mbps upload in those areas of Italy which, by 2026, will not be served by networks offering download speed above 30 Mbps.

Open and Secure Internet – EU signs joint declaration with international partners

The EU, the U.S. and several international partners signed a Declaration for the Future of the Internet. Partners support a future for the Internet that is open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure and affirm their commitment to protecting and respecting human rights online and across the digital world. So far, 60 partners have endorsed the Declaration, including all EU Member States.(press release COM)

EU-US Transatlantic Technology Council (TTC) – 15/16 May meeting

The 2nd meeting of the EU-US TTC will take place in France on 15 & 16 May. TTC’s purpose to coordinate approaches to key global trade, economic and technology issues, and to deepen transatlantic trade and economic relations based on shared democratic values. The political directions discussed at TTC’s by senior officials are carried forward via 10 working groups to work out specific deliverables, coordinate the technical work and report to the political level. The 10 WG’s are: Technology Standards; Climate and Clean Tech; Secure Supply Chains, Information and Communication Technology and Services (ICTS) Security and Competitiveness; Data Governance and Technology Platforms; Misuse of Technology; Threat to Security and Human Rights; Export Controls; Investment Screening; Promotion of Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME); Access to and Use of Digital Tools; Global Trade Challenges.

The May meeting will be very much dominated by transatlantic response against Russia, including disinformation responses, controls and sanctions on emerging technologies.  Other items include coordinated approach to global standard setting, supply shortages, trade of telecommunications equipment and security.  The third meeting will take place in the USA in December.

EU-India – Launch of Trade and Technology Council

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, agreed to launch the EU-India Trade and Technology Council at their meeting in New Delhi. This strategic coordination mechanism will allow both partners to tackle challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security, and thus deepen cooperation in these fields between the EU and India.

Both sides agreed that rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement. The decision to set up a Trade and Technology Council will be the first for India with any of its partners and second for the European Union following the first one it has set up with the US. Establishing the EU-India Trade and Technology Council is a key step towards a strengthened strategic partnership for the benefit of all peoples in the EU and India.

Drones – Leaders’ group issue report to prepare EC strategy

A Drone Leaders’ Group set out a high-level vision “A Drone Strategy 2.0 for a Smart and Sustainable Unmanned Aircraft Eco-System in Europe’. The final report includes concrete objectives over eight thematic areas in drone policy, along with recommendations. The Drone Strategy 2.0 will also contribute to synergies between civil, defence and space industries, including an EU Drones Technologies flagship project, support the decarbonisation and digitalisation of transport, and support Europe’s strategic autonomy.

The Group was tasked by the Commission to give high-level steer and provide recommendations for the development of the Strategy. The European Commission will now finalise the ‘Drone Strategy’ which will be adopted in the last quarter of 2022.

France R&D – EC commission approves state aid scheme

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €700 million French scheme to support research, development and innovation projects by companies of all sizes and active across all sectors. This measure is part of the “France 2030” recovery program to support two types of measures: (i) aid for research and development projects, and (ii) aid for process and organizational innovation. Under the scheme, which will be in place until 31 December 2023, the support will take the form of direct grants, soft loans and repayable advances. The scheme applies to the following four thematic areas of research, development and innovation (‘RDI’): (i) energy transition and environmental protection, (ii) digital transition, (iii) innovations in production processes, and (iv) research necessary to support the continued functioning of European value chain and the security of supply.

EU Mission for 100 climate-neutral and smart cities – EU announced cities

The Commission announced the 100 EU cities – including 10 French cities – that will participate in the EU Mission for 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030, the so-called Cities Mission.

The 100 cities come from all 27 Member States, with 12 additional cities coming from countries associated or with the potential of being associated to Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme (2021-2027).

As urban areas are home to 75% of EU citizens. Globally, urban areas consume over 65% of the world’s energy, accounting for more than 70% of CO2 emissions. It is therefore important that cities act as experimentation and innovation ecosystems to help all others in their transition to become climate-neutral by 2050.

The Cities Mission will receive €360 million of Horizon Europe funding covering the period 2022-23, to start the innovation paths towards climate neutrality by 2030. The research and innovation actions will address clean mobility, energy efficiency and green urban planning, and offer the possibility to build joint initiatives and ramp up collaborations in synergies with other EU programmes.

The Commission will invite the 100 selected cities to develop Climate City Contracts, which will include an overall plan for climate neutrality across all sectors such as energy, buildings, waste management and transport, together with related investment plans.

All Digital Weeks 2022 – fostering digital skills and competencies

The ALL DIGITAL Weeks campaign rolled out across Europe during 5 weeks (14 March – 14 April) with the aim of fostering digital skills and competencies, based on the motto: ‘’Enhance your digital skills!’’, a call to action for all Europeans to take an active role to continue learning and training to remain actively engaged and prepared for the challenges brought by the digital transformation.

ALL DIGITAL Weeks 2022 supported the implementation of specific actions of the Digital Education Action Plan 2021-27 (DEAP) of the European Commission on themes such as digital inclusion, online disinformation, the EU Digital Competence Framework, cybersecurity, and STE(A)M issues. On the website one can read the summaries, watch the video-recordings of the events and find here the presentations.