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Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, speaks during a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, February 28, 2020. Photo: Reuters

EU plans tech reboot to help it bounce back from coronavirus crisis, compete better with US and China

  • The European Commission announced a US$825 billion recovery plan on Wednesday, and said it plans to achieve technology sovereignty in crucial areas
  • The coronavirus pandemic has underlined how the 27-country bloc depends on others for key technologies and supplies of crucial materials
From ramping up 5G’s roll-out to exploiting its data, the European Union is turning to technology to help it bounce back from the coronavirus crisis and compete better in key areas with the United States and China.
As part of a 750 billion euro (US$825 billion) recovery plan announced on Wednesday, the European Commission said the goal was to achieve technology sovereignty in crucial areas after it emerges from the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

This has underlined how the 27-country bloc depends on others for key technologies and supplies of crucial materials.

“The pandemic and its consequences on our lives and economies have highlighted the importance of digitisation across all areas of EU economy and society,” the bloc’s executive body said as it announced the plan to help EU countries.

The proposal includes more investment in 5G and 6G networks, with the main beneficiaries expected to be health, education, transport, logistics and media, but did not give any figures.

China Telecom and ZTE are already working on 6G technology

Other areas due to receive more funding include artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, secured communication, data and cloud infrastructure, supercomputers, quantum and blockchain.

The Commission also reiterated plans to pass a data law to capitalise on the bloc’s trove of industrial, environmental, health, transport and public administration data.

It sent a warning to large online platforms, on which thousands of European companies depend for access and business, saying a new legislation known as the Digital Services Act planned for the end of 2020 will set out clear rules.

“It will offer greater security for consumers online, prevent the abuse of market power by platforms and ensure a fair market place with equal opportunities for smaller businesses,” the Commission said.

A proposed cybersecurity strategy to be fleshed out in the coming months aims to help EU countries boost the security of their networks and tackle malicious attacks online.