Commission proposes Declaration on digital rights and principles

28 January 2022

On Wednesday, the European Commission presented a draft Declaration on European Digital Rights and Principles for a ‘human-centred’ digital transformation. In the eyes of the Commission, this new Declaration would act as a new guiding framework for citizens, businesses, and policy makers for the digital decade 2030. 

The new draft Declaration, which will still need to be adopted by both the European Parliament and the Council, is based on the December 2020 Berlin Declaration signed under the previous German Presidency of the Council of the EU. 

The Commission’s initiative comes as the European Parliament and EU Member States come together to negotiate the final versions of the EU’s landmark Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts. It also comes as digital technologies, both positive and negative, have come under greater scrutiny for its societal, economic, and environmental impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Moreover, according to the Commission’s Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, and her colleague Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, the Commission’s proposal also represents a key lesson of the pandemic experiences. Based on those, the Commission’s draft calls on EU Member States to ensure the freedom of choice online, to foster participation in the digital public space, and increase safety, security, and empowerment of individuals online. 

According to the European Commission, a key aim of the Declaration on European Digital Rights and Principles is to ensure that the rights and freedoms enjoyed by EU citizens under the EU’s Treaties and Charter of Fundamental Rights are respected universally, both online and offline. 

Once jointly endorsed, the Declaration will also shape the approach to the digital transformation which the EU will promote through its international engagements.

In doing so, the EU will also globally promote the idea of the access to the Internet as a human right, a key concern championed by former European Parliament President David Sassoli back in 2018.