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22. 4. 2021

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The Great Firewall of the EU – Do we Need it?

During the coronavirus pandemic, the world went through an unprecedented digitalization process, and online platforms gained more ground than before. At the same time, there is an urgent need to consider ethics and transparency, regulation, and privacy aspects in the new digital age. Essential issues of digitalization were raised during the online conference entitled “Idea Accelerator 2021 – The Future is Digital” organized by the European Liberal Forum along with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Project Office for Bulgaria and North Macedonia, European Liberal Youth, and the Institute for Politics and Society.

In the fourth session of the conference, Dita Charanzová, Vice-President of the European Parliament, discussed the state of the European Internet and the potential framework for European-US regulation of big tech companies. The discussion was moderated by Jan Macháček, Chairman of the Board at the Institute for Politics and Society.

Over the past 20 years, Europe experienced a significant change in digitalization and regulating e-commerce, as Ms. Charanzová underlined. The European Internet is still uncontrolled and free of any censorship. However, one of the main challenges Europe needs to face is regional companies moving to the United States since they cannot scale up in their home countries, she noted. There is only one way forward for the European Union. New legislative tools regulating big tech companies are crucial to open the space for European companies.

Recent debates on copyright and the directive reform were among the most heated and sensitive topics in the European Parliament. Striking the right balance between publishers and platforms took two years. As Ms. Charanzová highlighted, a new law on copyright reform was adopted, and now more time is needed for the implementation process.

Ms. Charanzová provided insight into the transatlantic relationship as well. The Biden administration offers new opportunities for discussions with the EU, and the two blocs have very similar approaches to the regulation of the Internet. On the other hand, the EU targets mostly American big tech companies with regulations that the US can interpret as a digital war. She suggested that common rules should be set up together with the US to become stronger globally.