The outcome of this first Eurobarometer survey will help develop the proposal for a European declaration on digital rights and principles of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.
According to a special Eurobarometer
survey conducted in September and October 2021, an overwhelming
majority of EU citizens think that the Internet and digital tools will
play an important role in the future. Moreover, a large majority finds
it useful for the European Union to define and promote European rights
and principles to ensure a successful digital transformation.
- Importance of digital in daily life
The findings of the survey show that more than eight in ten Europeans
(81%) feel that by 2030, digital tools and the Internet will be
important in their lives. More than 80% of EU citizens think that their
use will bring at least as many advantages as disadvantages. While only a
small minority (12%) expects more disadvantages than advantages from
the use of digital tools and Internet by 2030.
- Concerns about online harms and risks
More than half (56%) of the EU citizens surveyed expressed their
concern about cyber-attacks and cybercrime such as theft or abuse of
personal data, malicious software, or phishing. In addition, more than
half (53%) of them also indicated worrying about the safety and
well-being of children online, and close to half (46%) of EU citizens
worry about the use of personal data and information by companies or
public administrations. About a third (34%) of EU citizens worry about
the difficulty of disconnecting and finding a good online/offline life
balance, and around one in four (26%) are concerned with the difficulty
of learning new digital skills necessary to take an active part in
society. Finally, about one in five (23%) EU citizens expressed their
worry about the environmental impact of digital products and services.
- Need for more knowledge of rights online
According to the survey results, the majority of EU citizens think
that the EU protects their rights in the online environment well. Still a
significant number (almost 40%) of EU citizens are not aware that their
rights such as the freedom of expression, privacy, or
non-discrimination should also be respected online, and in six EU Member
States, more than three in four think this way. Nonetheless, a large
majority of EU citizens considers it useful to know more about these
- Support for declaration on digital principles
A large majority (82%) of EU citizens considers it useful for the
European Union to define and promote a common European vision on digital
rights and principles. These principles should have concrete
implications for citizens, for example nine in ten (90%) are in favour
of including the principle that everyone, including people with
disabilities or at risk of exclusion, should benefit from easily
accessible and user-friendly digital public services. People want to be
clearly informed about the terms and conditions that apply to their
internet connection, be able to access the internet through an
affordable and high-speed connection, and be able to use a secure and
trustworthy digital identity to access a broad range of public and
private online services.
The outcome of this first Eurobarometer survey will help develop the
proposal for a European declaration on digital rights and principles of
the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. The Declaration
will promote a digital transition that is shaped by European shared
values and by a human-centric vision of technological change.
After this first survey, a recurring series of Eurobarometer surveys
will be planned on an annual basis (from 2023 onwards) to collect
qualitative data, based on citizens' perception of how the digital
principles, once enshrined in the Declaration, are implemented in the
The special Eurobarometer (518) investigates the perception among EU
citizens of the future of digital tools and the internet, and the
expected impact that the internet, digital products, services and tools
will have on their lives by 2030. It was conducted between 16 September
and 17 October 2021 through a mix of online and face-to-face
interviewing, where possible or feasible. 26,530 respondents from the 27
EU Member States were interviewed.
On 9 March 2021, the Commission laid out its vision for Europe's digital transformation by 2030 in its Communication on the Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade,
and proposed to compile a set of digital principles that embody the
European way for the digital transformation and guide EU policy in
digital. This covers areas such as access to internet services, to a
secure and trusted online environment and to human-centric digital
public services and administration, as well online freedoms.
Building on that, in September 2021, the Commission proposed a robust
governance framework to reach the digital targets in the form of a Path to the Digital Decade.
The Commission also conducted an open public consultation on the
Digital Principles, which ran from 12 May to 6 September 2021. The results
of this consultation showed broad support for European Digital
Principles from respondents. The consultation received 609 responses, of
which 65% were from citizens, and 10% from civil society organisations.
© European Commission
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