Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Single Market, presented a three-step plan around the continent’s metaverse ambitions while announcing the launch of a VR and AR coalition to encourage investment in the sector.
Thierry Breton explained that the metaverse is one of the most pressing challenges for the European Commission (EC) and that its plan to promote the virtual world will focus on people, technology and infrastructure. It is certainly his experience as CEO of the Atos group, which he transformed from 2009 to 2019, that comes to the fore again 🙂 He declared that the new environment must “integrate European values from the start”, with private virtual worlds developed on the basis of interoperable standards and “no private actor” actually having all the power or setting the terms and conditions. Innovators and technologies should be allowed to flourish unhindered, adding that the EU will not tolerate new private monopolies.
Shaping the metaverse depends on its ability to master and develop breakthrough technologies in Europe and to build a sustainable ecosystem. First announced in 2020, the EU has officially launched the VR and AR Industrial Coalition, which brings together stakeholders from key metaverse technologies. The coalition will focus on a specific roadmap endorsed by over 40 EU companies spanning large organisations, SMEs and universities.
Investing in a range of metaverse-related technologies, including photonics, semiconductors and new materials, Europe said it needed to bring together European, national and private funding to truly advance its vision. The EU will focus on building a robust connectivity infrastructure. The amount of data exchanged in virtual spaces will be greater than ever, which will put “intense pressure” on the connection infrastructure.
Highlighting the challenge despite increasing amounts of data being transported over infrastructure, but falling revenues had reduced the appetite to invest and build it. To this end, the EU will encourage all market players benefiting from the digital transformation to make a fair contribution to goods, services and infrastructure.
At the same time, the EU opened its new office in San Francisco, California, a global center for digital technology and innovation. The office will strengthen EU cooperation with the US in digital diplomacy and strengthen the EU’s ability to reach out to key public and private stakeholders, including policy makers, business and civil society in the digital technology sector.
With approx. €127 billion dedicated to digital reforms and investment, it provides an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate digital transformation that the EU and its Member States cannot afford to miss. Especially as there is global progress, but digital skills, SMEs and 5G networks are lagging behind. Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden remain EU favourites. But even they face gaps in key areas: the adoption of advanced digital technologies, such as AI and Big Data, remains below 30% and very far from the target of 75% in the digital decade 2030; widespread skills shortages, which slow down overall progress and lead to digital exclusion.
Only 54% of Europeans aged 16-74 have at least basic digital skills. Since the 2000s, what have all states done on the subject of training, education for the digital life? Not sure the plan of attack on the metaverse is a priority if no one knows how to use it!
VR/AR Industry Coalition
The VR/AR Industry Coalition was first announced in 2020 in the Commission’s Media and Audiovisual Action Plan to strengthen cooperation between industry sectors and ensure European leadership. A series of stakeholder workshops took place from November 2021 to February 2022 and resulted in a market assessment that identifies key challenges and opportunities for the European VR/AR sector. The document outlines the extent to which VR/AR is currently being implemented in the media sector and the targets for optimal deployment to be achieved by 2026. It includes policy and industry measures needed to facilitate the deployment of these technologies and overcome industry fragmentation.