The European Council adopts conclusions on ‘Mainstreaming digital solutions and technologies in EU development policy’ and reaffirms the EU and Member States’ commitment to support Digital Technologies and Services in developing countries as powerful enablers of inclusive growth and sustainable development, as stated in the new European Consensus on Development.
Digitalisation is an essential driver for achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It can contribute to achieving progress in areas such as gender equality, good governance and the rule of law, migration, health, education, agriculture, energy and climate change, and sustainable job creation. Digital for Development will follow a rights-based approach encompassing all human rights and freedoms, promote democratic governance and the rule of law.
Moreover the Council welcomes the publication of the Commission Staff Working Document on Digital4Development (D4D), which provides a framework for mainstreaming digitalisation into EU development policy and identifies four priority areas with an immediate focus mainly in Africa. In this direction the Council underlines the need to promote D4D as a comprehensive framework in all developing countries focusing on those where digital needs and opportunities are the greatest.
In the document conclusions the Council invites the Commission to swiftly implement the D4D approach through a series of concrete and demand-driven actions to be launched during the 2017-2020 period. It further calls on the Commission to bring successful pilot projects to scale. For this reason the EU Council looks forward to progress in developing digital infrastructure, promoting e-governance and digital skills, strengthening the digital economy and fostering start-up ecosystems. Digital start-ups in creative and cultural industries should also be promoted in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.
The private sector plays a critical role in promoting digital for development, in particular in terms of investments, innovation, market knowledge and expertise. The Council underlines the importance of leveraging additional sources of funding, and welcomes in that regard the launch of the External Investment Plan and the creation of a dedicated investment window on digitalisation within the European Fund for Sustainable Development as a major innovative tool to mobilise public and private investment and to support the digital economy in partner countries. Finally the Council stresses the importance of mainstreaming digitalisation in all other investment windows in order to create synergies.