The European Commission proposed a Declaration on European Digital Rights and Principles (the Declaration) to the European Parliament on January 26, 2022. The Declaration aims to implement a people-first approach to digital transformation, prioritizing individual autonomy and corporate transparency as the digital landscape rapidly evolves. The Declaration is rooted in the Commission’s dedication to meeting digital transformation targets scoped for 2030, and covers a broad range of topics including, but not limited to:

  • People-first digital transformation
  • Solidarity and inclusion
  • Connectivity
  • Digital education and skills
  • Working conditions
  • Interactions with algorithms and AI
  • Fair online environment
  • Safety and security
  • Privacy and individual control over data
  • Sustainability

The next steps on actioning the Declaration include a discussion between the European Parliament and Council, with a projected endorsement scoped for this summer.

Impact of the European Digital Rights and Principles Declaration

The Declaration is impact-driven, focused on actioning people-first regulatory precedent at the forefront of the modern digital revolution. The proposal moves forward with the intention of curating tangible change across the everyday lives of European citizens by:

  • Improving access to high internet across all socioeconomic classes
  • Equipping school staff with technology-first training
  • Streamlining access to public services
  • Instilling safety-based digital parameters for children
  • Encouraging intentional screen time and work-life balance
  • Providing transparent information about the environmental impact of technology
  • Empowering individual autonomy around personal data storage, usage, and sharing

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market said, “We want Europeans to know: living, studying, working, doing business in Europe, you can count on top class connectivity, seamless access to public services, a safe and fair digital space. The declaration of digital rights and principles also establishes once and for all that what is illegal offline should also be illegal online. We also aim to promote these principles as a standard for the world.”

The Declaration acts as a step towards enacting a robust governance framework to meet the targets scoped by Europe’s digital compass, which include achieving: Digitally skilled citizens and highly skilled digital professionals; Secure, performant, and sustainable digital infrastructures; Digital transformation of businesses; Digitalization of public services.

Europe’s People-First Approach to Digital Transformation

The enactment of a people-first path to digital transformation derives from European Parliament President David Sassoli’s 2018 decision to promote internet access as an inherent human right, which sparked the creation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The Commission cites that 80 percent of European Union (EU) citizens determined that the definition and promotion of digital rights and principles goals would be helpful in ensuring their instillment. Additionally, the Declaration helps depict the relationship between people-first digital transformation the 20 pillars of social rights through regulatory action and well-defined maintenance plans.

The EU plans to enact yearly Eurobarometer surveys to collect real-time data on the impact of digital rights and principles on citizens and gauge the public’s perception of the commission and parliament’s actions in the space.


Further Resources on European Digital Rights and Principles:

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