What to expect from the French presidency regarding digital files?

In the coming months, it will be crucial for the digital sector to become aware of what needs to be done in a further digitalizing economy. Therefore, this blogpost focuses on the various files that will be addressed by the French Presidency starting from 1 January, under its motto: “Recovery, Power and Sense of Belonging”.

Slovenia’s scoreboard

When Slovenia took over the Presidency of the Council, it was clear that there were a number of important priorities. First of all, the Digital Services Package was the main focus of the Presidency. For both the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a general approach at the Competitiveness Council in 25 November was reached. Regarding the Data Governance Act (DGA), the EU Parliament and Council found an agreement on 30 November. The DGA will provide a framework for sharing industrial data across the EU.

Secondly, another priority was cybersecurity. In that regard, the most relevant file was the review of the Directive on Security of Network and Information System (NIS2). It lays out legal measures to boost the overall level of cybersecurity in the EU. Reaching a common position on new rules for cybersecurity on 3 December was again a win for the Slovenians.

Thirdly, the Presidency focused specifically on the different aspects of Artificial Intelligence. In September it held several events organised around AI ethical implication and policy discussions. The aim was to find an agreement on the general approach for the AI Act before the end of the Presidency. However, talks on the AI Act, and other files – including the e-Privacy regulation, are postponed. On the e-Privacy regulation, the Slovenians held just one trilogue. It will now be to the French to lead on talks with the Parliament and the Commission – although do not expect anything this file to become a priority.

What to expect from France?

In the coming months, the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union will lead important files through the institutional negotiations and will be closely involved in the legislative files that are part of the “Digital Decade”, including the Digital Markets Act (DMA), and the Digital Services Act (DSA). Moreover, the French EU Presidency will coincide with French general elections set for mid-April 2022.

There is a lot of expectation on the French Presidency on leading digital files. The country is very eager to set up a robust framework to create legal certainty for the digital world. The French priorities are not fully communicated yet, but the main focus regarding digital and tech will be on both regulation and innovation.

The question of regulation will be at the heart of France’s Presidency. For France, the DSA and DMA are the two most important texts on internet services and they want to keep momentum for regulation.  France hopes the European institutions will come to an agreement in the trilogue during their Presidency and that they can close this file.

On the AI Act, which has been presented by the European Commission on 21 April, France is willing to make as much progress as possible. The priority regarding this file is to preserve regulatory sandboxes, which make it possible to test new technologies transparently and contribute to evidence based law-making.  On the NIS Directive, France underscores the explosion cyberattacks and ransomware. The French government believes it now has a historical opportunity to set standards in the next six months. The aim is to have full control over data in a transparent manner and to close dialogue abroad with major trade partners to harmonize access to data and work together on cybersecurity.

For France it must be a priority to be able to have both regulation as well as the capacity to innovate, especially for SMEs. For innovation, this relates to digital sovereignty and means that the EU is able to catch up in the digital world in comparison to the USA or China. In general, in digital & tech policy, France is quite favorable to scale down foreign tech companies in the hope of scaling up French and EU tech companies. Today, the digital world leader is setting the standards and France is of the opinion that today there are no European leaders in the digital world. Moreover, on 8 November, the French government announced a total of more than €2 billion in funding to be used in the French tech ecosystem over the next five years to create strong champions at the national and European level.

Looking forward

It is clear that the French government aims to advance the digital transformation and deepen the country’s role as a global and European powerhouse when it assumes the EU Presidency in January. But having the adoption of a common position on the AI Act on the agenda, the trilogue negotiations on the DSA and the DMA, combined with the national Presidential elections, will probably slow the progress on other files such as the e-Privacy regulation. Nevertheless, it is clear that France has put its focus on regulating the digital ecosystem. This will make it crucial for the sector to become aware of what needs to be done in the coming period.

Do you want to know more about these legislative files which are expected to dominate the policy discussions in the coming months, or would like to know more about the future of the EU Digital sector, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Over the last years, Dr2 Consultants has built up a track record in advising a broad range of clients in navigating the EU ecosystem.

Would you like to know more about what the upcoming digital files means for your organization? Feel free to reach out or visit our DigitalTech webpage.