The European Union (EU) is setting the stage for a new era of digital innovation. With a forward-thinking strategy on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds, the EU aims to steer the next technological transition, ensuring an open, secure, and inclusive digital environment for all.
Web 4.0, the next generation of the internet, promises a seamless integration of digital and real objects, enhancing human-machine interactions. The global virtual worlds market, currently valued at €27 billion, is projected to skyrocket to over €800 billion by 2030.
The EU’s strategy aligns with the 2030 objectives of the Digital Decade policy programme, focusing on four key pillars: skills, business, public services, and infrastructures. It also addresses the openness and global governance of virtual worlds and Web 4.0.
To empower people and reinforce skills, the Commission plans to foster awareness and access to trustworthy information. It will also build a talent pool of virtual world specialists, promoting guiding principles for virtual worlds and developing guidance for the general public.
In the business realm, the Commission aims to support a European Web 4.0 industrial ecosystem. It proposes a candidate Partnership on Virtual Worlds under Horizon Europe to foster excellence in research and develop an industrial and technological roadmap for virtual worlds.
The EU is also investing in major initiatives such as Destination Earth (DestinE), Local Digital Twins for smart communities, and the European Digital Twin of the Ocean. The Commission is launching two new public flagships: “CitiVerse” and a European Virtual Human Twin.
Finally, the Commission will engage with internet governance stakeholders around the world, promoting Web 4.0 standards in line with the EU’s vision and values.
This strategy builds on the work of the European Commission on virtual worlds and consultations with citizens, academia, and businesses. The Commission hosted a European Citizens’ Panel on Virtual Worlds and invited citizens to formulate recommendations on a vision, principles, and actions to ensure that virtual worlds in the EU are fair and fit for people.