Belgian presidency proposes changes to EU digital governance for stronger international voice
The Belgian presidency of the EU Council of Ministers has proposed changes to the internal structure of the EU institution dealing with digital matters to enhance Europe’s voice at the international level.
Currently, the Council is divided into over 150 working parties, which is seen as inadequate in addressing digital issues effectively. The Telecom Working Party, established in the pre-internet era, is the main technical body dealing with digital policy. However, legislative files in this area are often scattered among multiple working parties, resulting in a lack of consistency in the approach to digital matters.
The Belgian proposal aims to strengthen the EU’s digital diplomacy and its role as a global regulator. It comes in response to the limited representation of European governments in digital matters at the EU Council. The proposal will be discussed in a joint meeting of the Cyber and Telecom Working Parties, providing an opportunity to reform the internal bodies.
The proposed setups range from formalising the current arrangement to creating a new working party focused on international digital topics. The proposal underscores the need for political ownership, effective engagement of EU countries, and coherence between internal and external policies. Improved coordination and engagement in international initiatives are seen as crucial for defending European interests.
The process would involve orientation debates, regular discussions at the ambassador level, and dedicated time for debating the international agenda. The proposal also highlights the importance of systematic briefings on external digital affairs to enhance awareness and engagement. By addressing the fragmentation of topics and enhancing coordination in digital diplomacy among member states, the Belgian proposal aims to mainstream digital matters into EU foreign policy and create a more cohesive approach.