Europe’s Digital Agenda 12-18 October

Europe’s Digital Agenda 12-18 October

Welcome to this edition of Europe’s Digital Agenda. In this space we uncover and detail last week’s digital developments from across Europe, highlighting the most relevant news and forthcoming activities.

Digital Europe at a glance

DIGITAL DIPLOMACY. Estonia has unvailed progress in their new Department for Cyber Diplomacy, housed at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

The department, which has started operating this autumn, comprises officials from the MFA and experts who have already previously worked on various aspects of cyber diplomacy.

The department will be tasked to contribute to sectoral discussions in international organisations; promote bilateral and multilateral relations supervise development cooperation in the cyber field and participate in formats related to internet freedom.

5G. Germany has finalized rules for the development of 5G mobile networks that will not exclude China’s Huawei Technologies in the United States.

Government officials have confirmed that Germany’s so-called security catalog foresaw the assessment of technical and other criteria, but that no single vendor would be prohibited in order to create a level playing field for equipment vendors.

Steffen Seibert, German government spokesman said, “We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company.”

HUAWEY. On Wednesday, Huawei officials went on an EU charm offensive with an event staged at the European parliament.

Huawei’s Western Chief also affirmed the company’s support for recent news that Germany has finalized specifics in its so-called security catalog, which will not preclude any particular equipment supplier from participating in 5G.

The US keeps pressuring the EU to act against Huawei is unrelenting. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber Robert Strayer briefed Brussels reporters earlier this week and repeated the previous US threat of potentially reducing information sharing with Berlin, unless Germany ensures that it only works with trusted vendors.

COPYRIGHT. Paris called on Berlin to pressure Google to abide by the spirit of the EU Copyright Directive, following France’s attempt to transpose the right of press publishers to demand remuneration from the Copyright Directive.

This week, French and German political leaders met to discuss whether they should take joint action against Google.

A joint Franco-German text published following Macron’s meeting with Merkel said the two countries will attempt to ensure “full respect of those [copyright] rules.”

In the meanwhile in Brussels took place the first meeting of the stakeholder dialogue on the implementation of Article 17 of the Digital Single Market Copyright Directive on the use of protected content by digital file-sharing service providers.

This dialogue is envisaged in the context of the new Directive and will help to prepare the guidelines for the implementation of Article 17.

The European Commission invited stakeholder organizations to participate on the basis of the criteria set out in the call for expression of interest for the participation of the stakeholder dialogue.

EU DOMAIN. New rules on the .eu Top-Level Domain entered into force in April. From this month Europeans living outside the EU can register for a .eu top-level domain.

Previously limited to residents of EU and EEA countries, the .eu space currently ranks as the seventh largest country code extension on the internet.

The Brussels-based institution says it reserves the right to monitor individual users on its publicly-financed wi-fi networks set up by commercial providers like UK firm BT. It also collects personal data, stored on servers in Brussels and Luxembourg, which it then retains up to six months.

WI-FI – EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT. It was reported this week that the Brussels-based organization insists that it reserves the right to control individual users on its publicly financed wi-fi networks set up by private companies such as the UK firm BT. It also gathers personal data stored on servers in Brussels and Luxembourg, which it maintains for up to six months.

DRONES. EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King participated in an international conference in Brussels aimed at discussing ways to counter the threats posed by drones.

The event, organised by the European Commission, brought together national authorities, key international partners, industry, academics and civil society to exchange experiences and identify areas where further European action can be taken.

Commissioner Bulc at the event announced during the event the launch of a ‘Drone Investment Advisory Platform’, a joint project by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to support innovation and improve investment in European drone projects. More information on the ‘Drone Investment Advisory Platform’ is available here

CONNECTING EUROPE. The European Commission has launched a call worth €1.4 billion to support key transport projects through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU’s central funding instrument for infrastructure networks.

The investment aims to help build missing connections across the continent, while focusing on sustainable transport modes

ONLINE TERRORISM. The first round of talks took place yesterday, followed by a second trialogue on 20 November and a fourth on 5 December. Specific discussions will also take place between the two.

There are a variety of sticky things in the talks. One of these, although the positions of the Council and Parliament seem to be close to this point, is the minimum timeframe for removal orders–the position of both Parliament and the Council is to force companies to remove online terrorist-promoting content within an hour of receiving orders from national authorities.

GOOGLE.  Google’s fight against a €2.4-billion EU antitrust fine will be decided in February 2020 at Europe’s second-highest court.

AMAZON. The UK competition watchdog revealed on 16 October that it had opened a formal investigation into Amazon’s investment in the food delivery service Deliveroo, setting a deadline of 11 December for a verdict on the first stage of its probe.

SAMSUNG. The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether Hungary’s plans to grant €108 million of public support to Samsung SDI for investing in the expansion of its battery cell production facility in Göd (Hungary) is in line with EU rules on regional State aid. 

The company is investing around €1.2 billion to expand the production capacity of lithium-ion cells and battery packs for electric vehicles in its existing plant located in Göd. 

GDPR. New European Council documents have been released this week that disclose data on information exchange and data protection.

Europe’s Digital Agenda – The Week Ahead

18 October

  • IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings. 
  • Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to visit the Philippines. 

19 October

  • IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings. 

20 October

  • General elections in Bolivia.

21 October

  • General elections in Canada.
  • Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to visit Japan. 

22 October

  • The European Parliament In a debate with Jean-Claude Juncker will take stock of the work done by the outgoing Commission during its five-year mandate.
  • European Parliament will adopt its position on next year’s EU budget.
  • MEPs are set to approve changes to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to include support for workers who would lose their jobs due to a no-deal Brexit.

27 October

  • General elections in Argentina.

Mover and Shakers

  • Laure Chapuis, who dealt with privacy in Andrus Ansip’s cabinet, will join the team of Kadri Simson, the commissioner-designate for energy.
  • Bill McDermott is stepping down as CEO of SAP. Executive board members Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein have been appointed as co-CEOs.
  • The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications has chosen Michel Van Bellinghen as its new chair for 2021.
  • Lendingblock, a cryptocurrency lending platform based in Gibraltar, hired former Goldman Sachs Managing Director John Macpherson as a strategic adviser.

Summit and Meetings

Bridging the Digital Talent Gap – Towards Successful Industry-University partnerships conference (Rome, Italy, 30 October 2019)

The workshop aims to address the systemic gap of advanced digital skills the EU is facing with the contribution of experts from relavant stakeholder such as universities, industry and public policy makers. 

Slush (Helsinki, Finland, 21-22 November 2019)

Slush Startup Europe, one of the world’s leading startup events is coming to Helsinki, Finland. Startup Europe, together with Business Finland and Slush will also organise a workshop on accelerating Digital Innovation and Ecosystems.

Boosting Connectivity Investments conference (Brussels, Belgium, 2-3 December)

The Boosting Connectivity Investments conference will explore how 5G corridors carry the Union’s leading connectivity to a more robust, stable and cost-effective network, enabling new concerted action between the transport, power and digital sectors.

Matteo Natalucci

Matteo Natalucci is a geopolitics expert working as an Editor in London covering all aspects of international affairs and technology. Matteo previously worked for the United Nations, the European Commission, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, IHS Markit, and Global Data. Get in touch with the author: matteo.natalucci@internationalinsider.org

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