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EU Council of Ministers agrees on digital development policy aims

The EU’s Council of Ministers has issued conclusions on mainstreaming digital solutions and technologies in EU development policy, as adopted by the Council at a meeting held on 28 November. It says the exponential spread and scale-up of information and communication technologies (ICT), including the internet, have “profound global implications”, creating opportunities in terms of sustainable development and inclusive growth, as well as people empowerment and enhanced democratic governance. It however entails also new challenges and threats. Digitisation needs to be properly mainstreamed across all policy areas, including in the EU’s development and foreign policies, while addressing cyber challenges and assuring the promotion and protection of human rights, including privacy, data protection and freedom of expression, with particular attention to freedoms online, in the digital age. Among the other points are the need to support the establishment of national computer emergency response teams and/or computer security incident response teams in partner countries; encouraging the use of digital technologies in responding to disasters and the implementation of humanitarian projects, as well as in the context of migration with a view to supporting refugees and host communities; and in spite of good progress achieved in recent years, the Council is concerned by the persistent digital divides and the unequal distribution of ICT benefits. It further highlights barriers to women in ICT and the commitments in the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020; it welcomes the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function stewardship transition to the global multi-stakeholder community; and “recalls the need to support the development of multilingual internet, particularly through investing in translation and language technologies, in order to promote the broadest use of ICT and spread of the digital economy worldwide”. Also highlighted are the internet of things, and the “rapid launch” of pilot initiatives in selected priority areas, including support for formulating appropriate policies and strategies for digital development, improving affordable connectivity, equal access, digital literacy and skills, e-government, cyber capacity building, digital entrepreneurship, as well as the use of digital technologies and services in other sectors. “Finally, the Council welcomes the Commission proposal to revise the European Consensus on Development stressing the role of digital solutions and technologies in EU’s future development cooperation. The Council insists on the need for a more strategic EU approach on the impact and opportunities of digitisation to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and as an enabler for aid efficiency, and therefore invites the Commission to prepare a staff working document on mainstreaming digital solutions and technologies across EU development policy. Full document here

  • Monday, 12 December 2016

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