EU-Metaverse Strategy: WEB 4.0 & Virtual Worlds (cepPolicyBrief)
Virtual worlds like the metaverse promise growth and jobs. For this reason, the European Commission has drafted a so-called metaverse strategy. The Centre for European Policy (cep) considers the outlined measures questionable. They are misleading, unclearly formulated, and not competitive with US tech giants like Meta.
"There is a lack of clear ideas on how Europe should gain influence on the shaping of metaverse standards and remain sovereign. The already existing concentration of US firms in this space raises concerns about the EU's future competitiveness," warns cep digital expert Anselm Küsters, who analysed the proposals with cep economist Matthias Kullas and cep consumer expert Patrick Stockebrandt.
The Commission wants to promote the growth and use of virtual worlds in Europe. The basis is the EU's Digital Decade programme. The aim is to create Web 4.0 and virtual environments in such a way that they correspond to the values of the EU, ensure security and protection of human rights, and at the same time facilitate the development of innovative European companies.
The cep researchers complain about ambiguous terminology in the Commission’s Communication. This could lead to misunderstandings and hinder international cooperation. "Moreover, skills development is apparently to be done from the top down. The EU should focus on fostering an innovation-friendly environment from the bottom up and work more closely with member states to attract and retain skilled people," Kullas demands. The strategy does not explicitly address competition policy and omits crucial funding aspects. Moreover, regulatory gaps in the metaverse are not adequately addressed.
In terms of legal policy, it is not so much a matter of creating new regulations, says Stockebrandt, but rather of ensuring the effective enforcement of existing regulations. "Ideally, global standards are needed to ensure that individual rights can actually be enforced".