Digital Rights and Principles: Presidents of the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council sign European Declaration
Today, the EU’s work on its ‘digital DNA’ – the European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles – has culminated: In the margins of the European Council, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signed the text together with the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala for the rotating Council presidency.
The Declaration, put forward by the Commission in January this year, presents the EU’s commitment to a secure, safe and sustainable digital transformation that puts people at the centre, in line with EU core values and fundamental rights. The Declaration shows citizens that European values, as well as the rights and freedoms enshrined in the EU’s legal framework, must be respected online as they are offline. Shaped around six chapters, the text will guide policy makers and companies dealing with new technologies. The Declaration will also steer the EU’s approach to the digital transformation throughout the world.
President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The signature of the European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles reflects our shared goal of a digital transformation that puts people first. The rights put forward in our Declaration are guaranteed for everybody in the EU, online as they are offline. And the digital principles enshrined in the Declaration will guide us in our work on all new initiatives.”
Rights and principles to guide the digital transformation
The digital transformation affects every aspect of people’s lives. It offers opportunities for greater personal wellbeing, sustainability and growth, but can also raise risks to which a public policy response is needed. With the Declaration on digital rights and principles, the EU wants to secure European values by:
- Putting people at the centre of the digital transformation;
- Supporting solidarity and inclusion through connectivity, digital education, training and skills, fair and just working conditions and access to digital public services;
- Restating the importance of freedom of choice and a fair digital environment;
- Fostering participation in the digital public space;
- Increasing safety, security and empowerment in the digital environment, in particular for young people;
- Promoting sustainability.
Concretely, these rights and principles mean: affordable and high-speed digital connectivity everywhere and for everybody, well-equipped classrooms and digitally skilled teachers, seamless access to public services online, a safe digital environment for children, disconnecting after working hours, obtaining easy-to-understand information on the environmental impact of our digital products, control about how personal data is used and with whom it is shared.
The signature of the European Declaration of digital rights and principles at the highest level reflects the shared political commitment of the EU and its Member States to promote and implement these principles in all areas of digital life, and to reach the objectives of the 2030 Digital Compass. The Declaration will also guide the concrete work on the Digital Decade Policy Programme, the monitoring and cooperation mechanism to attain the common digital objectives for the end of this decade. To achieve the 2030 goals, and for the Declaration to produce concrete effects, the Commission will monitor progress and report through the annual ‘State of the Digital Decade’ report. Furthermore, the Declaration will guide the EU in its international relations on how to shape a digital transformation that puts people and human rights at its centre.
On 9 March 2021, the Commission laid out its vision for Europe’s digital transformation by 2030 in its Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade Communication. In September 2021, the Commission put forward a Path to the Digital Decade, a robust governance framework to reach these digital targets.
The Commission proposed the Declaration of Digital Rights and Principles in January 2022. The Commission, Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the Declaration in November 2022. The Declaration adds to previous digital initiatives from Member States, such as the Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment, the Berlin Declaration on Digital Society and Value-based Digital Government, and the Lisbon Declaration – Digital Democracy with a purpose.
The Commission also conducted an open public consultation which showed broad support for European Digital Principles – 8 EU citizens out of 10 consider it useful for the EU to define and promote a common European vision on digital rights and principles – as well as a special Eurobarometer survey.
The declaration, and the rights contained within, is rooted in the treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It builds on existing digital policies, such as data protection, ePrivacy, workers’ rights and case law of the Court of Justice. It complements the European Pillar of Social Rights.