European declaration on digital rights and principles

Briefing 07-06-2022

Digital transformation concerns us all, in every aspect of our lives, from learning, working, communicating, doing business, to interacting with administrations, shopping and enjoying culture. The online environment has become very often our first and sometimes our only space for interaction. To steer this process so that no one is left behind, the European Commission tabled a draft declaration on digital rights and principles for a human-centred digital transformation. The declaration would serve as an overarching reference framework for the digital transformation, based on the principle that European Union rights and freedoms, as well as European values, should be respected online in exactly the same way as they are offline. The declaration is built around six themes: 1. people at the centre of digital transformation; 2. solidarity and inclusion; 3. freedom of choice; 4. participation; 5. safety and security; and 6. sustainability), and derives from primary and secondary EU law and EU case law. It does not confer new rights, as fundamental rights already apply online, nor does it replace existing proposals, but rather complements them instead. As such, it is not legally binding; it has primarily an advocacy role aimed at raising public awareness as well as promoting digital rights worldwide. The three EU institutions, Commission, Council and Parliament, must now agree on a common text and sign it in the form of a solemn declaration.