Help! Europe is coming

By Cleo van Engelen

At the European level, significant legislation has been published in the field of ICT and digitalization in recent years. The impact of this can be substantial on all member states, including the Netherlands. However, this impact is not always immediately visible or anticipated in advance. In the coming years, these kinds of European developments are set to accelerate. Legislation is coming on various fronts, including data, artificial intelligence, digital identity, and cybersecurity. But are we in the Netherlands prepared for this?

Europe, European laws, legislation, digitalization, digital development

Impact of laws and regulations and the developments

There's an extensive process involved in the creation of European laws or regulations up to their actual implementation in the Netherlands. If a directive is established within Europe, it imposes obligations on the member states, but not directly on citizens. This happens through the implementation of that law or regulation. An example is a regulation, which contains rules that apply directly to all European Union member states. For each European law or regulation, it needs to be determined how it can be implemented: sometimes by introducing or amending a law (like the AVG), in other cases through a ministerial regulation or decision (or a combination).

This implementation process is time-consuming and demanding, requiring a lot from governments, businesses, and regulators. The impact of a European law or regulation needs to be examined, as well as the intersections with (existing) Dutch laws and regulations, and a strategy for execution needs to be devised. History teaches us that this process can take years.

Developments in digitalization seem to be surpassing that pace. There's a growing need for frameworks and guidance on handling our digital identity, as well as a vision on how to deal with algorithms or collective cybersecurity rules. Examples of legislation coming from Europe include the Accessibility Act, Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act, Data Act, eIDAS regulation, and AI Act. And these are just a few examples.

Start today assessing the impact of the new laws and regulations on your organization

My stance is that we, in the Netherlands, need to act now: begin by assessing the impact of all these developments. Map out what's coming, at what pace, who's involved, and especially, what the opportunities and possibilities are with these European developments. Given the significant impact of these kinds of developments on citizens and businesses, the focus shouldn't just be on complying with laws and regulations; we should look at how to leverage them to further advance digitalization policies and implementation.

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