EU and Singapore are strengthening their cooperation as strategic partners. Following the announcement of a new Digital Partnership between the EU and Singapore by President von der Leyen and Prime Minister Lee at the EU-ASEAN summit in December 2022, Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton and Singapore Minister of Industry and Trade S Iswaran signed a Digital Partnership that will strengthen cooperation between the EU and Singapore on digital technology areas. Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis and Minister Iswaran also signed Digital Trade Principles. A key deliverable of the Digital Partnership, the Principles seek to facilitate the free flow of goods and services in the digital economy, while upholding privacy.
The EU-Singapore Digital Partnership reflects the dynamic relation the EU has built with an open and outward-oriented economy and a vibrant logistics and financial hub in South-East Asia. Both sides have agreed to work together on critical areas such as semiconductors, trusted data flows and data innovation, digital trust, standards, digital trade facilitation, digital skills for workers, and the digital transformation of businesses and public services. This Partnership is in line with the 2030 Digital Compass, the European way for the Digital Decade and represents another key step in the implementation of the EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.
The Digital Partnership will, for example:
- Enhance research cooperation in cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and semiconductors;
- Promote cooperation in regulatory approaches such as in the field of AI and Electronic Identification (eID);
- Foster investments in resilient and sustainable digital infrastructures, including data centres and submarine telecommunications cables for connectivity between the EU and Southeast Asia;
- Ensure trusted cross border data flows in compliance with data protection rules and other public policy objectives;
- Promote information exchange and cooperation in the field of cybersecurity;
- Build alliances in international organisations and standardisation fora;
- Facilitate digital trade, including by working towards joint projects such as paperless trading, electronic invoicing, electronic payments, electronic transactions framework.
Following the signature of the Partnership, an inaugural Digital Partnership Council was held, which set the priority areas of cooperation for the year ahead. It was co-chaired by Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton and Singapore Minister of Industry and Trade S Iswaran. Singapore and the EU agreed on key priorities of implementation for 2023: exploring common approaches in e-identification and in Artificial Intelligence governance as well as working on projects to facilitate digital trade and SME’s digital transformation.
The signature of the Digital Trade Principles represents a first tangible outcome of our digital partnership and a key step in the implementation of the EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. The principles demonstrate that the EU and Singapore share the same commitment to an open, fair and competitive digital economy, without unjustified trade barriers.
The EU-Singapore Digital Partnership is the third signed with key partners in Asia. The first digital partnership was concluded in May 2022 with Japan during the 28th EU-Japan Summit, and the second with the Republic of Korea in November 2022. The Partnerships establish an annual high-level meeting – the Digital Partnership Council – led by Commissioner Breton on the EU side and the relevant Minister for each of the three partner countries. The Digital Partnership Councils provide the political steer, set the priorities for implementation and take stock of the progress achieved.