Today, the European Union and its Member States have launched the Digital for Development (D4D) Hub for the EU Neighbouring Countries in a significant effort to step up their regional engagement in the digital field.
The objective of the D4D Hub in the EU Neighbouring Countries will be to increase the impact of the efforts of the EU and its Member States to promote a human-centric digital transformation, driven by people’s needs, fundamental rights, and intersectional challenges to closing digital divides.
The D4D Hub will serve as a strategic platform for the regional partners to actively engage with the European Union and its Member States, discuss joint priorities in the digital field, and identify concrete opportunities to advance cooperation.
The announcement was made at the 6th Western Balkans Digital Summit, which is taking place in Sarajevo on 4-5 October 2023. The event has gathered key partners from the region, such as the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and national governments, to build a shared vision for a digitally empowered Western Balkans.
The European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “We are intensifying our engagement in digital and scaling up investments in priority areas. Therefore, we are launching a new branch of the Digital for Development (D4D) Hub for the EU neighbouring countries to strengthen cooperation and coordinate engagement between the EU, its Member States and our partner regions.”
Launched in December 2020 by the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and several Heads of State, the D4D Hub already has activities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. In the past years, the D4D Hub has become one of the key instruments for increasing multi-stakeholder collaboration, facilitating knowledge sharing, and incubating joint initiatives, investments, and innovations in the digital field.
In its inaugural initiative, the D4D Hub hosted a dedicated side event at the Western Balkans Digital Summit, uniting representatives from the European Commission and D4D Hub members with their counterparts from the Western Balkans region. In the meeting, the priorities and prospects of the new branch were discussed. Additionally, similar discussions will occur in various regional dialogues in the future.