Astounding capacities should not overshadow emerging vulnerabilities​

Although the digital economy is often apprehended as intrinsically sustainable and resilient, a series of vulnerabilities and concerns are gradually recognized by policy makers and institutions and incorporated in policy priorities at the EU level. Such vulnerabilities include the unsustainable increase of the carbon and environmental footprint of the sector and its rising output of electronic waste. Besides, digitization exposes strategic infrastructures to cyber threats or natural and climate disasters. A series of dependencies of European countries is also been stressed: dependencies on technologies and products of the ‘digital oligopoly’, on third-countries for critical raw material (e.g. graphite, cobalt, lithium) used in digital and climate technologies and on advanced components for data processing (e.g. microprocessors). At the same time, production, storage and process of data is largely located outside Europe. The pandemic has also revealed and intensified various forms of extended digital inequalities and divides between social groups, member-states, urban and rural regions and between small and large enterprises, undermining the prospects of an inclusive and fair digital transition.