French President Emmanuel Macron is seen on screens as he addresses the nation about the state of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France in this illustration picture, October 28, 2020.
Christian Hartmann | Reuters
LONDON — French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said that Europe must preserve its “digital sovereignty,” outlining a number of steps aimed at reducing its dependence on U.S. technology giants.
Although U.S. digital platforms contributed to a “big transformation” in society following the coronavirus outbreak, there needs to be a “European solution and European sovereignty” when it comes to tech, Macron said.
“We need European financing, European solutions, European talents, European regulations,” Macron said in a conversation with Niklas Zennstrom, the Swedish billionaire who co-founded Skype.
“We have regulation … but we don’t have the equivalent of these very, very large caps,” Macron added, referring to highly valued technology companies in the U.S. like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.
France’s leader outlined three requirements for Europe to achieve such a digital sovereignty strategy. They include:
- More European Union integration on things like start-up financing.
- A “digital single market” promoting privacy and tech innovation.
- European cloud and data solutions to reduce reliance on U.S. firms.
Digital sovereignty has become an integral concept in the EU’s bid to become a global tech powerhouse, fighting back against the dominance of large American tech companies.
The bloc is soon set to unveil groundbreaking new rules governing digital markets and services which could hold significant consequences for U.S. giants like Google and Facebook.
Meanwhile, the European Commission, Germany and France are working on an initiative aimed at reducing reliance on U.S. and Chinese cloud giants. Called Gaia-X, the project aims to develop a new framework for data infrastructure in Europe — essentially blueprints for a future European cloud provider.
Atomico, Zennstrom’s venture capital firm, released a report Tuesday showing that Europe’s tech sector was on track to win more than $41 billion of start-up investment in 2020. It also highlighted challenges around raising growth funding and making tech more diverse.