Joint statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the State secretariat for the digital transition and electronic communications (7 Feb. 2022)


Creation of a European Initiative for Digital Commons

On the first day of the “Building Europe’s Digital Sovereignty” conference, which was held February 7- 8, 2022 as part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, a call for the creation of a European working team tasked with proposing a European Initiative for Digital Commons was issued by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Cédric O, Minister of State for the Digital Transition and Electronic Communication.

The digital commons utilize an open approach and are based on the collective control and use of data and technological infrastructure. As an alternative to certain tools and services provided by the digital giants, they help to reinforce the sovereignty of all countries. With their position at the heart of the digital value chain, they provide greater security and spur on innovation. Therefore, strengthening the digital commons constitutes a key component of the European Union’s sovereignty.

The French Presidency of the Council commends the European Commission on the work it has done to identify and provide outstanding support for the digital commons and the open-source software that comprise the strategic segments of the digital landscape, and, in particular, of the free, open, neutral, single and safe Internet. Now it is time for Member States to use existing programs and expert communities to create an ambitious European initiative for digital commons.

Over time, this initiative should (i) steer efforts towards the identification of the existing national digital commons and the open-source software that are likely to possess a European, or perhaps even an international, dimension; (ii) promote the use of digital commons within European institutions and Member States’ public services; and (iii) set up a framework for contributing to the digital commons by allocating human resources or financial support, or by participating, formally or informally, in their governance.

Today, the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union announced the establishment of the provisional working team gathering Member States participating on a voluntary basis to discuss: (i) opportunities to mobilize funding available in the
European Union; (ii) a European incubator for digital commons, either virtual or hosted in a physical location; and (iii) the means or a structure to provide guidance and assistance to Member States in addition to funding for digital commons.

In a demonstration of the broad European consensus, Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Sweden – 16 Member States in total – have announced their participation in this working team. The team will present its conclusions at the Digital Assembly on June 21 and 22, 2022.