French presidency considers general guidance on digital transformation governance framework –

The French presidency is expected to receive a mandate to initiate inter-institutional negotiations on the path to the digital decade, a decision to put in place a governance framework to monitor member states’ progress against the 2030 digital targets.

Since the start of its presidency of the EU Council in January, France has made several changes to the initial proposal resulting in three different compromises. The overall effect is to weaken the control power of the Commission, leaving more room for national governments.

The French Presidency has proposed a mandate to initiate interinstitutional negotiations with the European Parliament. The mandate, seen by EURACTIV, should receive the green light from EU ambassadors at the Committee of Permanent Representatives on Friday 6 May.

The European Commission presented its objectives for the digital decade last year, but it could revise them by June 2026 if it deemed it necessary in the light of technical, economic and societal developments, in particular in the fields of the economy of data, sustainability and cybersecurity.

Each year, the European executive will submit a report to the Parliament and the Council on the “state of the digital decade”, but in doing so, it will have to take into account the national specificities of each country and propose proportionate measures, while leaving the opens the way to more ambitious national goals.

If the Commission considers that the progress made by a specific country is insufficient to achieve one or more digital targets, a six-monthly cooperation cycle will begin. The Member State will have to explain how it intends to adjust its strategic roadmap within six months of the publication of the report.

During this cooperation phase, a peer review process could be triggered, activating a mechanism for the exchange of good practices on specific digital policies between Member States. In the Council’s version, only national governments will be able to initiate this, and the result of the peer review will be included in the annual report if the country agrees.

Member States will have to commit to strategic roadmaps for the Digital Decade, which do not exclude national or regional initiatives in the industrial or digital fields. The Commission will provide non-binding guidance on the minimum elements that these roadmaps should include.

The Commission will define the key performance indicators to achieve each digital objective through implementing acts and secondary legislation, based on the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) and after consultation of member states.

The deadline for Member States to submit their roadmap has been extended from six to twelve months. Roadmaps should include relevant policies and expected impact, implementation timeline and projected trajectories.

If a member state does not adjust its roadmap based on the Commission’s recommendations without sufficient reason, the EU executive could adopt a recommendation, but only after consulting the country concerned. The country concerned will then have to adjust its roadmap within five months or provide a justification of the reasons why it will not do so.

The power of the Commission has been further reduced, since the possibility for the EU executive to propose appropriate measures in case national measures are deemed insufficient has been removed. The Commission can only propose, rather than initiate, a targeted dialogue with an EU country that continually deviates from its national trajectory.

In the latest compromise, the text was aligned with the proposal for a digital wallet, known as eIDAS, in particular by referring to the fact that 80% of EU citizens would use electronic identification by 2030 .

In addition, the reference to fundamental rights and to the European Declaration of Digital Rights and Principles has been moved from an article to the preamble of the text to make it legally non-binding.

The European Commission proposes a “digital identity wallet”

The European Commission has presented a legislative proposal for an EU “digital identity wallet” which would allow many services such as opening a bank account or filing tax returns to be carried out in a purely digital.

“All market players benefiting from the digital transformation assume their social responsibilities and make a fair and proportionate contribution to the costs of public goods, services and infrastructure, for the benefit of all Europeans,” reads the text of the mandate.

This reference is in line with the Commission’s draft declaration on digital values ​​and principles and is inspired by a request from European telecommunications providers that online platforms should contribute to infrastructure costs. The Commission is currently assessing this claim, EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager told reporters on Monday.

EU countries have lobbied for the removal of any reference to radio spectrum in their reporting obligations. Although radio spectrum is a fundamental aspect of the deployment of connectivity networks, it is considered a national resource because it can be licensed at very high costs.

At least three EU countries will be able to create a European Digital Infrastructure Consortium (EDIC), an accelerated legal procedure for multinational projects relevant to the digital transition.

The Commission should provide non-binding guidance on these projects, unless support is not requested. The Commission would be empowered to establish key performance indicators for the EDIC, except where they relate to national security, public safety and defence.

The Council text adds that the need to minimize the negative environmental and social impact of digital technologies and stakeholder consultations to gather feedback that will inform policy recommendations should also include civil society.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

Helen D. Jessen