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International Activities

European and international initiatives of the Minister and the Department for digital transformation

At a glance

This section presents the initiatives and activities in the European and international fields of the Minister for Technological Innovation and Digital transition (MID) and the Department for Digital Transformation (DTD), focusing on several aspects:

  • Italy's alignment with EU strategies on digital innovation as well as the country's position on EU measurement tools.
  • The participation of the Department and the Minister in numerous international working groups and task forces dedicated to digital innovation.
  • The Department's participation in international cooperation initiatives chaired by organizations such as the World Economic Forum and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

European Union

The Department's work fits in along the track laid out by the European Commission's European Digital Strategy (formally called "Shaping Europe's Digital Future").

In the Strategy, the Commission calls for a digital transition that puts people first and opens up new opportunities for businesses, while respecting the values of European society.The strategy is based on three pillars:

  • technology in the service of people,
  • a fair and competitive digital economy,
  • an open, democratic and sustainable society.

The European strategy encourages the development of eGovernment in which technologies are imagined and implemented as facilitators for the real transformation of Public Administrations. With the EU eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 the European Commission recommends a strategic shift in the digitalization plans of Member States, and clarifies priorities in terms of policies, reforms and investments.

The Department also contributes to the European strategy as a member of the "eGovernment Action Plan and Benchmark Steering Group" of the European Commission. The group, composed of representatives from the various Member States, helps to assist the European Union in monitoring the implementation of the actions foreseen in the eGovernment Action Plan.

The DTD also actively contributed to the drafting of the Berlin Declaration as a member of the Steering Committee on the Berlin Declaration. The Declaration was signed on 8 December 2020 by the Ministers of Digital Government - including our Minister- and ensures continuity and harmony with the Tallinn Declaration. Commitments made in Tallinn on efficient, interoperable, and user-centric public digital services are reaffirmed.

In line with the European Data Strategy, the Department for Digital Transformation aims to improve the use of data in the public sector and support administrations in this process.

Gaia-X is a project launched by France and Germany that envisages the creation of a European data infrastructure that will make the European Union autonomous for data management. Italy is in third place among the most represented countries, with 29 members between companies and associations. Our country is represented by the Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitalization, Paola Pisano, who joins Peter Altmaier, the German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, and Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister for the Economy.

Italy also supports the development of the "Important Project of Common European Interest" (IPCE) dedicated to infrastructures and aimed, in particular at the promotion of a "European Cloud Ecosystem" that supports and accompanies Gaia-X. The aim is to define a European industrial strategy that can strengthen the technological autonomy of the EU and encourage the development of Italian and European companies. On October 15, 2020, together with 24 other EU Member States, Italy signed the Joint Declaration "Building the next generation cloud for businesses and the public sector in the EU".

Italy's position regarding the main instruments for measuring the progress of the Government and the digital society is highlighted below.

The eGovernment Benchmark is the Annual Report, published by the European Commission - DG CONNECT- and edited by Capgemini, which measures the progress of individual Member States in the digitalization of the public sector, as outlined in the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020. According to the 2020 report, Europe's leaders in e-gov are Malta (overall score of 97%), Estonia (92%), Austria (87%) and Latvia (87%) which score the highest in all four benchmarks. On the European panorama, Italy is part of an "unconsolidated eGov, a scenario in which countries do not fully exploit the opportunities of ICT": it will be necessary to improve the level of penetration by increasing the number of people who submit official requests online to administrative authorities or by automating processes and requiring fewer forms from citizens.

THE DESI indicates the progress of EU member states towards a digital economy and society, based on a number of indicators considered relevant to assessing the implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe. The DESI is comprised of five main dimensions with a total of more than 30 indicators. Italy's situation in DESI 2020 shows an offer of public services that is in the European average, and a low use of available public services, below the average. The country ranks 24th among the 28 EU member states. Regarding digital public services, as for 2019, Italy is in 19th place just below the EU average. However, Italy surpasses the EU average in online service completion, digital public services for businesses, and open data. In this respect, the strategy pursued by the MID/DTD is based on improving the usability and accessibility of digital services and e-skills.

Italy joins the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, which is one of ten key initiatives introduced in 2016 by the European Commission to address the ever-growing need for digital skills. National coalitions are partnerships of different actors in Member States working together to improve citizens' e-skills at national, regional or local level. On April 7, 2020, the Minister for Technological Innovation and digitalization Paola Pisano launched the Italian National Coalition as part of the Repubblica Digitale initiative.

Since September 2019, DTD has been participating as a Sherpa in the "Women in Digital Working Group" coordinated by the European Commission. In this function, the Department has contributed to drafting a "Ministerial declaration for women in digital", which includes the following activities: 1) proposal for the establishment of a "European day for girls & women in ICT"; 2) within the national strategy for digital skills and "Digital Republic", in-depth analysis of tools focused on the female target; 3) start-up of a collaboration with ISTAT to identify useful indicators for monitoring the participation of women in the digital economy through the "Women in digital Scoreboard".

The Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP) was introduced by the European Commission with the aim of helping Member States implement institutional, administrative and structural reforms, and it covers several policy areas, including reforms and the digital transformation of the PA. The programme is accessed on the basis of submission and eventual selection of a project and is completely free of charge for the Member States.

The MID/DTD participated in the programme with a project called "Coordinate and streamline the implementation of the public sector digital strategy nationwide", aimed at improving the multi-level governance of public administration in Italy. The project, selected and approved in January 2020, aims to identify an effective governance model for public sector digitalization, ensuring full cooperation between central and local government.

International organizations and initiatives

International cooperation is an essential dimension to take full advantage of digital transformation and ensure the coherence of Italy's digital strategy.

For this reason, the MID/DTD, in addition to the necessary adoption of EU indications and policies, has launched a precise strategy of wide-scale international interlocution in order to have an active role in International Organizations.

In December 2020, Italy assumed the Presidency of the G20 which it will retain throughout 2021. As part of the programme of the Italian G20 Presidency, set out around the trinomial People, Planet and Prosperity, digital will play an important role in promoting the global goal of fostering sustainable and inclusive economic recovery.

During the Italian Presidency, the MID intends to advance the ideas of digital transformation, focused on citizens and on inclusiveness, which are also the foundation of the country's strategy for innovation and digital transformation, 'Italy 2025'. Within the context of the G20 agenda, the digital-related issues that are of direct concern to the MID and on which it intends to focus are: Artificial Intelligence, Digital Identity and Agile Regulation.

The DTD will be active - also at the level of working groups, through its involvement in the Digital Economy Task Force (DETF) - in promoting initiatives related to the ethical and sustainable development of innovative solutions to serve PA and citizens, and to the modernization of PA processes and technologies.

The culminating event for DTD/MID will be the Ministerial on Innovation and Research, scheduled for early August (5-6 tbc), perhaps in attendance, in Trieste. The DTD is currently developing three position papers on the three topics listed above to submit for discussion within the "Digital Economy Task Force." It has also created a reasoned map, with details of skills and contacts, of all the "Digital Ministers" (in the G20, G7/EU sphere) in order to initiate bilateral contacts.

The MID/DTD participates in the OECD E-Leaders group, a sub-group of the Directorate for Public Governance, Committee on Digital government. Within the group, Italy is leading a project on digital identity and has contributed to the drafting of a specific Report.

The DTD is also represented on the Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) and on the Steering Committee Bureau that guides the three-year work plan and addresses areas of analysis. It also has a member on the Steering Committee of the "Going Digital Project". In this capacity it has contributed to the following "Going Digital Toolkits": "The role of sandboxes in promoting flexibility and innovation in the digital age", "National Digital Strategies and Governance", "Interoperability of Privacy and Data Protection Frameworks". The MID spoke at the "OECD Global Conference on Governance Innovation: Towards Agile Regulatory Frameworks in the Fourth Industrial Revolution" to present the "Right to Innovate" bill (January 13, 2020).

The DTD also participated in the annual exercise conducted by the OECD and supported by the MEF for the preparation of the "Economic Outlook: Italy" (24 November). The exercise took the form of participation in a hearing conducted by members of the OECD/MEF mission and the drafting of responses to a questionnaire on:

  • strategy for the digitisation of the public sector, e-government, e-register and other major projects;
  • how the strategy is being adapted in response to the COVID outbreak;
  • developing the e-skills of civil servants;
  • how businesses are responding to the crisis; what is needed to encourage greater digital adaptation, and reflections on the ability of current policies to support businesses and households;
  • understanding the main obstacles preventing low productivity firms from catching up, including the role of management capacity.

The "Agile Nations Charter" is an initiative launched by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the OECD with the aim of promoting international cooperation on "agile regulation”. The initiative was joined by Italy, the United Kingdom (proposer of the Charter), Canada, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore, and among the companies Siemens, IBM, SUADE, and Facebook. The mission of "Agile Nations" is to make it easier for companies to introduce and scale innovations in their markets, while supporting the protection of citizens and the environment.

In November 2020, the MID/DTD adhered to the "Agile Nations Charter" on the occasion of the Pontignano 2020 Conference, held in Siena from October 1-3, 2020. The Minister for Technological Innovation and digitalization Paola Pisano announced she was joining the high-level panel "Agile governance for the post pandemic world"organized by Ocse and Wef.

The Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence - GPAI is an international initiative born out of a French-Canadian initiative, whose technical/scientific secretariat is hosted by the OECD-Directorate for Science, technology, Industry (DSTI), Committee on Digital Economy Policies (CDEP).

The Partnership aims to promote the responsible development and use of artificial intelligence, while respecting human rights and democratic values. The GPAI brings together experts from industry, government, civil society, and academia to conduct research projects on artificial intelligence.

In May 2020, MID/DTD joined the Global Partnership, joining Australia, Canada, the European Union, Germany, France, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Brazil, Spain, and Poland have also joined recently, while Italy has an elected representative on the Steering Committee, which includes Canada, France, Japan, and the United States.

The innovation strategy is rooted in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, the analysis of which led to the identification of three main challenges:

  • the digitalization of society;
  • the country's innovation;
  • the sustainable and ethical development of society as a whole.

The MID/DTD promotes an approach to digitalization in line with the spirit and goals of the United Nations. Consistent with the Innovation Strategy 'Italy 2025', the Department promotes dialogues, policies, and initiatives functional to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The MID/DTD works closely with UN specialized agencies - such as UNDESA, UNESCO, UNIDO - also within the framework of the Italian G20 Presidency to strengthen international cooperation on innovation, social inclusion, and public sector digitalization.

In addition, the United Nations eGovernment Benchmark - an index developed every two years to monitor the level of digitalization of member countries - provides a useful orientation tool for the activities of the MID / DTD. This is a bi-annual analysis that assigns all UN member countries a score based on the level of digitalization of services. The score is expressed through an e-Government Development Index (EGDI) that describes and analyses global trends in electronic service delivery and the distribution of online services. This assessment is based on countries' income levels and service provision in specific sectors - particularly important for sustainable development. In the eGovernment Survey 2020, Italy was ranked 37th globally.

Minister's Bilateral relations

In line with the international cooperation strategy, the MID/DTD maintains and strengthens bilateral relations and cooperation with EU, OECD and non-EU/OECD countries, participating in and supporting specific initiatives.

The MID/DTD has initiated a close dialogue with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, on the topics of 5G and smart mobility in particular.

In addition to the close cooperation initiated during the German Presidency of the EU Council mentioned above, and to the numerous exchanges with the German Embassy in Rome, the MID/DTD organized together with the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the "German-Italian Workshop on GAIA-X" (July 27) in which several Italian companies participated. On 19 November 2020, the MID participated in the "GAIA X Summit", together with German Minister Peter Altmeir, French Minister Bruno Le Maire, and European Commissioner Thierry Breton.

The MID/DTD met with the Ambassador of India in Rome and contacts followed to explore the topic of digital identity - India's Aadhaar biometric digital identity is considered a best practice for developing countries -, and digital skills.

During the year, several virtual meetings were held with the British Embassy in Rome and with representatives of the British government. The MID was a key-note speaker at the Pontignano 2020 Conference: XXVIII edition "United Kingdom and Italy: Together for a Prosperous, Safe and Sustainable Future".

The MID/DTD started a close dialogue with the Embassy of Spain in Rome and drew up a document with possible project proposals to be launched bilaterally on the basis of the Italian-Spanish Joint Declaration of 25 November.

Participation in MAECI initiatives

The DTD/MID participates in the following Steering Committees set up at MAECI.

Cabina di Regia Geopolitica del Digitale (Digital Geopolitics Steering Committee ), which carries out coordination activities on the most relevant digital dossiers.

Joint Italian-Libyan Economic Commission: The MID/DTD presented a proposal for an Italian-Libyan collaboration on digital-related topics: skills, digital identity, IO apps.

Updated on 17 february 2021