AI and blockchain underpin new EU proclamations on digital single market
The European Commission (EC) is set to re-tool its agenda for a digital single market with new focus on artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and digital healthcare technologies.
Tomorrow (April 10), the Brussels-based government will convene with ministers, business leaders, academics and others from European Union (EU) countries to augment its digital single market policy with promises of new cooperation and investment around key digital technologies.
Specifically, Brussels said it will focus on AI, blockchain and digital healthcare. It also said it will launch a new online tool for EU innovators, ‘Innovation Radar’, to help them with investment and support to launch their products.
In tandem, Spain and Portugal will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to kick-start cross-border 5G testing, part of the EC’s move in late 2017 to develop large-scale ‘testing corridors’ for Europe-wide 5G rollout.
Brussels noted AI will underpin developments in healthcare, transport and industry, but warned EU countries must collaborate to realise the economic benefits it affords, including on data protection. The EC will follow its own declaration on AI tomorrow, and France president Emmanuel Macron’s €1.5 billion AI package last week, with its fully-fledged European AI initiative in the next weeks.
Meanwhile, around €300 million has already been committed to EU bockchain-related projects, as part of the new Blockchain Observatory and Forum, launched in February to promote European engagement with the technology. The EC said it will lay the groundwork in an address tomorrow for establishing a European Blockchain Partnership to promote interoperability of blockchain-based services.
As well, Brussels will make a declaration on digital health, or e-health, with the idea to link access to genomic databases across EU states. This will advance research in the genetics for use in disease prevention and treatment, including for rare diseases, cancers, brain diseases and other conditions, it said.
Invariably, the management of data will be at the heart of the EC’s proclamations tomorrow. Cooperation between member states will help to overcome challenges with interoperability and fragmentation of EU initiatives, and keep data secure and private.
The new round of announcements on EU-wide digital collaboration are being presented under the banner, Digital Day 2018. This year’s Digital Day follows last year’s equivalent, in Rome, which triggered cooperation in areas such as high-performance computing, connected mobility and the digitisation of industry.
The EC’s digital single market was announced in 2015 to cover policy-making in digital arena, and to effectively enable the digital transformation of the European single market, tearing down regulatory walls to create a single trading market. The EC reckons the process will create €415 billion per year and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
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 geo-blocking 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 recognise 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, EC commissioner for the digital economy and society, added: “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 e-health, and I encourage all EU member states and stakeholders to contribute to our efforts to keep Europe a global player in the digital age.”
France’s AI plan, announced at the end of March, has been broadly welcomed by industry.