It is necessary for Europe to ensure the conditions of its sovereignty and its strategic autonomy

By Jean-Noël Barrot, French Minister for Digital transition and Telecommunications

The digital world is entering a time of profound change. Begun by the evolution of information channels in the public digital space, these upheavals have been reinforced in the last 24 months by both the health crisis and the war in Ukraine. Thus, our relationship with technology has been profoundly modified.

This is why all countries in the world, and particularly outside Europe, are accelerating their technological development. Indeed, the United States is relocating its value chains, with a major investment plan that mobilizes €369 billion to accelerate innovation. On the other side of the globe, in Asia, China, but also Japan and Korea, are also accelerating very strongly.

The risk of the European Union falling behind technologically and economically should not be underestimated, nor should the loss of sovereignty that this would create.

Moreover, France has also signed the Paris Agreement to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. These objectives therefore require the implementation of ecological planning that is compatible with maintaining the competitiveness of our innovative companies.

Because technological domination often precedes economic domination and ultimately cultural domination, the European Union must maintain its place in this global game. This is how its companies and citizens will be protected from these major movements, but will also benefit from the opportunities that technology can represent, from an economic point of view as much as from a societal one.

In this context, it is necessary for Europe, and more particularly for France, to ensure the conditions of its sovereignty and its strategic autonomy.

The French government’s strategy has diverse goals: to support the French and European offer, to help champions emerge and to encourage industrial cooperation that guarantees both quality of service and data protection.

Over the past decade, new monopolies have developed in the digital space that escape the commercial and fiscal rules set by European Union’s member states.

Under the impetus of President Emmanuel Macron, during the French presidency of the European Union, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) was adopted. This is undoubtedly one of the most important economic regulation since the beginning of the 20th century, which will reopen the game and allow our companies to operate fairly on the European markets.

We are going to continue with the same determination, and I am convinced that other countries in the world will continue to be inspired by our work.

Equally, it is unacceptable to see hate, violence, scams, crime and fakenews spread anonymously. Parliamentarians have taken up these issues and have made it possible to move the lines. Still under the French presidency, Europe has taken a major step forward with the Digital Services Act (DSA), which will shift responsibility to platforms and force them to regulate the content they distribute.

Our ambition is not to dismantle GAFAM. But we want them to respect a set of rules in the European Union. There is no contradiction here. Protecting our European citizens implies for the European Union to ensure that the rules concerning personal data, on which Europe has been a pioneer for years, are respected and that our values are preserved.

In this aim, we are setting healthier and fairer competition rules so that the hegemony of the hyperscalers ends and our European technology companies can emerge (notably through the principles of portability and interoperability).

In addition, €54 billion France 2030 program, launched a year ago, is part of an economic policy in favor of innovation and industry to accelerate innovation and industrial reconstruction.

Within this framework, France 2030 aims to accelerate the transformation of key sectors of our economy through innovation and to position France as a leader in the world of tomorrow.

France 2030 also aims to help new players and new sectors emerge by devoting 50% of its resources towards emerging players. The program supports France’s 27 unicorns and aims to bring out 100 of them by 2030 (including 25 green ones). All these actors have a part to play in the European sovereignity.

Finally, France 2030 is a major lever for decarbonizing our economy, with 50% of resources devoted to decarbonization, with ambitious objectives for the automotive industry, but also for rail, with the hydrogen train, for materials, with recycling and critical materials, and for electricity production and the decarbonization of industrial sites. €5 billion have already been allocated to support large-scale projects in this area.

By combining our assets and strengths in ambitious programs, at the service of innovation ecosystems and in a genuine ecological planning approach, we are giving Europe the means to fully play its role as a sovereign digital superpower.