A triple strategy for the EU’s revised technology policy in the next mandate (2024-2029): regulation, investments and international agenda

The imminent elections to the European Parliament (June 9, 2024) will bring to a close the political and legislative cycle within the EU that began in 2019. This period is marked by an ever-increasing geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States. in the technical, economic and commercial spheres; With a global health crisis of the first order (COVID-19), it has spurred digitization; And by the nature of technology, a series of international activities that lead to fractures and new windows of cooperation.

The top priority of the next command will be established A common European approach to innovative digital technologies Based on the principles of effectiveness, coherence, efficiency, agility, impact and coordination, it enables the prioritization of tools to keep the European market innovative, while at the same time fostering unity and open economic security. To achieve those objectives, the next mandate should review its current paradigm in three technical areas: Regulation, InvestmentsAnd Foreign policy.

Regulatory simplification will be the axis of action in the coming years. The first step would be Implementation of more than 50 legislative files Currently in the digital sector. The second step is to guarantee the effective, efficient and coherent implementation of said regulation throughout national public administrations, which will require training of technical and regulatory authorities at the human resource level. For example, the application of the European Regulation on Artificial Intelligence and eIDAS2 (the second version of the Regulation on Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services, whose purpose is to promote secure digital communications within EU member states) will take together more than 60 implementing actions at the national level.

within it Latest results (May 21, 2024), the Council of the European Union itself talks about „the future of EU digital policy” and „indicates the need to comprehensively evaluate the effects of any new legal initiative to guarantee a balance between innovation and regulatory burden.” and Avoid the risk of stifling an agile, innovation-friendly European digital single market, without missing out on the risks posed by technological advances.

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In the next five years of the mandate, the regulatory focus should be on coordinating between the European Commission and Member States and implementing rules in a simpler way with guarantees that rights are respected while ensuring innovation across the production fabric. This is is estimated 25 industrial sectors (from chemical sector to railways and hospitality) have to step up their legal activities to comply with these norms.

The second challenge will be the next mandate Economic competitiveness of the European Union. In the final years of the current mandate, both the Commission and some Member States promoted industrial policy strategies aimed at increasing channels. Public Finance Towards strategic and critical sectors in the digital, climate and energy sectors, as well as for security. In the first part, the launch of STEP (Strategic Technologies Platform for Europe), driving investment in digital and deep technology, clean and green technology and biotechnology has sparked great interest and support. The initial proposal for June 2023, submitted within the package of measures for the mid-term review of the multiannual financial framework for the period 2021-2027, requires a total of 10 billion euros. However, as the months passed, this ambition dropped to 1.5 billion euros, a drop of more than 85% from original expectations.

With other regions similarly channeling increased public investment into key private sectors, the EU’s next mandate should focus on three aspects. First, make sure the investments are there Coordinated and integrated at EU level. Currently there are instruments such as industrial alliances, joint ventures and IPCEIs (Key Projects of Common European Interest). Corresponding to 10 IPCEIs Approved As of 2018, only 20% of participating companies are SMEs. In the current environment of increasing concentration of technology companies, it is important for the EU to improve its support for SMEs to guarantee competitiveness and economic activity with large companies. On the other hand, out of these same 10 projects, only one is dedicated to infrastructure; The rest are dedicated to R&D or projects for early industrial deployment. The next step is to convert R&D into concrete economic outcomes in European value chains.

The second aspect will be based on investments
Assessing the impact of public and private investments in the same technology vertical. In 2022, the levels of public investment increased – for example, in the area of ​​quantum technologies, China announced an investment of 15.3 billion dollars, the EU 7.2 billion, the United States 1.9 billion and Japan 1.8 billion. Meanwhile, the size of the private sector in the EU continues to be low Market capitalization. Currently, 10 of the world’s 15 largest quantum computing companies are from the United States, while only one is of European origin (France). Therefore, there is a need to examine why increased public assistance does not lead to greater private investment within certain emerging verticals.

Third feature
Establish prioritization of funding, tools and incentives according to existing or potential technical capabilities. A report titled A sustainable EU2030, launched during the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, reveals three scenarios to determine the extent to which the EU’s internal capabilities should be strengthened: technologies where there are competitive advantages; Those who show some ability to position themselves at the forefront; And leadership is not impossible, but a minimum critical skill is required in the event of supply chain disruptions or external shocks. Above all, the next step for Member States, including the Spanish administration, is to guarantee the submission of a mapping of important technologies that is truly integrated, consulted and compared between ministries and actors from Spain, the private sector and civil society. With a view A strategy for economic security. The establishment of the first Office for Artificial Intelligence in the EC coincides with the review of the Spanish Government’s National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2024. Nevertheless, it is necessary to move other technological areas in the same direction as expected National Strategy for Quantum Technologiesor that Spain take a collective position in the Commission’s recommendation on the safety and resilience of submarine cables.

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This latter point leads to the third aspect of the EU’s revised technology policy. We cannot talk about the digital agenda by referring only to regulatory or economic competitiveness – partnerships with like-minded countries and allies are also fundamental. Since 2019, the EU has advanced rapidly in the framework of three models: Trade and Technology Councils (with the US and India), Digital Cooperation Agreements (or DPAs, with South Korea, Japan and Singapore), Digital Alliances (with Latin America and the Caribbean), and Nigeria-like Digital economy bundles with individual countries. The next step is to strengthen the European Union Technology diplomacy The structures within the institutions, as well as in the Member States, including Spain, still lack a structured and integrated strategy for technology diplomacy.

The EU’s upcoming 2024-2029 mandate is not expected to create more instruments, regulations or initiatives. Instead, the roadmap will consist of: implementing what already exists; efficiency and coordination in the use of developed tools and processes; Assessing the actual impact of said initiatives; and more structure and dialogue between Member States and the EU. All this will guarantee the application of existing regulations, innovation and economic competitiveness, and continued integration with trusted third countries.

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