The EU4Digital Steering Committee week kicked off on 5 October 2020, for the first day of online meetings that highlighted the EU’s digital policy agenda, and how it might be extended to the Eastern Partnership (EaP). Senior European Commission officials stressed the EU’s support for digital transformation in the partner countries, and its significance for growth, jobs and development in the region.

Over 180 high-level stakeholders from across the EaP region joined the first day of meetings of the second annual EU4Digital Steering Committee to hear from the programmes under the EU4Digital Initiative and to discuss the digital state of play in the region.
The EU4Digital Initiative aims to extend the benefits of the European Union’s Digital Single Market to the countries of the Eastern Partnership. Its programmes focus on improving broadband, connecting research communities, and supporting digital harmonisation and interoperability across areas such as Telecom Rules, Trust and Security and eHealth, working to deliver tangible benefits to citizens in the Eastern partner countries.
The first day began with a presentation of the EU’s digital policy agenda and how it might be extended to the Eastern Partnership.
The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on the importance of Digital: the European Council recently endorsed a set of conclusions on the future of the EU’s Digital Single Market, recognizing the importance of this fast-growing sector. In addition, a minimum of 20% of the EU funds allocated under the Recovery and Resilience Facility as a response to COVID-19 will be made available for the digital transition within European society.

The Steering Committee week provided an opportunity for key EaP stakeholders to get involved in the discussions, and to help shape the upcoming priorities of the region in the digital sector. The sessions on day one saw constructive dialogue between the participants on the state of play and the progress made. The following days included discussions on upcoming digital priorities in the EaP region, before taking a deep dive into EU4Digital’s thematic subjects towards the end of the week. More details about the EU4Digital Initiative can be found on the EU4Digital website.
What will Eastern Partnership priorities on Digital look like beyond 2020?
Digital is a vital component of modern business and society, at a time when an increasing number of interactions take place in the digital space. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for further investment in Digital, to facilitate growth and innovation despite restrictions on physical gatherings.
The year 2020 marks a transition in the EU’s long-term agenda for supporting Digital in the Eastern Partnership. The current policy agenda of 20 Deliverables for 2020 will be completed by the end of the year, with a new set of objectives beyond 2020 taking the core stage. The EU’s Joint Communication on ‘Reinforcing Resilience – an Eastern Partnership that delivers for all’, adopted in March 2020, sets out the main elements of EU support to the EaP, including strengthening the digital sector as one of the EaP’s five main policy objectives.
The discussion around these priorities will help to set the actions for the coming years under the new EU objectives beyond 2020, framing the support for digital transformation in the Eastern partner countries.
If you would like to find out more about EU4Digital and its thematic areas, please visit the EU4Digital website.