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EU embraces shared ground with Canada in digital partnership

Mutual recognition for cross-border digital identity in sight
EU embraces shared ground with Canada in digital partnership

Digital identity, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence are among the key areas covered by the new EU-Canada Digital Partnership, launched at the 19th EU-Canada summit in St. John’s, Newfoundland last week.

A release from the European Commission says that the partnership is intended to strengthen the two regions’ ties as strategic and like-minded partners in the digital field. It supports a number of objectives, including cooperation on international connectivity and robust semiconductor supply chains, monitoring of the development and deployment of AI systems including generative AI, and facilitating the exchange of best practices on digital ID, regulatory frameworks and data spaces.

Specifically, the agreement promises to “develop closer cooperation through digital research and deployment programmes in the areas of supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cyber security, advanced digital skills, and digital identity and digital credentials.” Of particular note is section III.20, which states clearly that ”both sides intend to exchange information on their respective digital identity and digital credentials as well as trust services frameworks and develop concrete pilot projects towards their interoperability, paving the way for their possible mutual recognition.”

“The EU and Canada share the same vision of a digital future in line with our democratic values,” says European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “The new digital partnership will help us strengthen semiconductor supply chains, increase our cooperation on artificial intelligence and secure connectivity and cyber threats.”

Věra Jourová, the EC’s vice-president for values and transparency, says increased cooperation will mean more agility in contending with increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats. “Areas like AI, semiconductors, foreign information manipulation, and others, require an effort of global democracies to ensure that digitalisation can serve people and that fundamental rights will be upheld also in the digital sphere.”

In broader terms, the agreement upholds and reavows the EU and Canada’s shared views on the primary importance of information technology that can improve the economy with a basis in inclusive, human-centric design, development, governance, and use.

The EU-Canada Digital Partnership marks the fourth such arrangement the EU has with “like-minded countries,” as it pursues digital transformation milestones for 2030 according to its Digital Compass strategy. The other three digital partnerships are with Japan, Korea and Singapore.

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