European Federation of Journalists

European Commission’s objectives on the digital future: Trust is key

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes the digital transformation’s working plan of the European Commission for the next five years unveiled in the report Shaping Europe’s Digital Future, published on 19 February. The European data strategy and the policy options to ensure the human-centric development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the first steps towards achieving these goals. 

“Today we are presenting our ambition to shape Europe’s digital future. It covers everything from cybersecurity to critical infrastructures, digital education to skills, democracy to media”, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The Commission’s ambition in fostering a Digital Education Action Plan that will boost digital literacy is indeed urgent and should include media literacy as Europe needs a media-literate population that values and incentives good journalism.

While the EFJ appreciates the initiative to improve labour conditions of platform workers in its agenda, it insists that likewise freelancers and small digital start-ups must be included in the aim for fair working conditions in the digital environment.

The second main goal for the Commission is to ensure a fair and competitive economy and the EFJ welcomes a sector inquiry which shall explore any adjustments in competition rules, also taking into account the enormous power of the internet platforms in a data-based economy. The third objective is to have a trustworthy and transparent environment in which citizens are empowered in how they act and interact, and in control of the data they provide both online and offline. 

The EFJ welcomes that the media sector is one of the priorities for the Commission through two main actions. On one hand, a Media and Audiovisual Action Plan that supports digital transformation of the audiovisual and media sector, quality content and media pluralism. On the other hand, a European Democracy Action Plan that will support media pluralism.

In a world where the public debate has moved online, trustworthy “quality” journalism is key for our democratic societies and for cultural diversity. The EFJ appreciates the Commission’s aim to create a framework that promotes trustworthiness and will continue to advocate also for fair working conditions for media professionals and defends media freedom and media pluralism in this challenging transition.

The White Paper on Artificial Intelligence is now open for public consultation until 19 May 2020. The Commission is also gathering feedback on its data strategy. In light of the input received, the Commission will take further action to support the development of trustworthy AI and the data economy.

The European Commission will present later this year a Digital Services Act and a European Democracy Action Plan, both to be monitored closely by the EFJ.

Photo credit: camilo jimenez / UNSPLASH