The European Commission has announced a plan to take the lead in the metaverse, aiming to reflect European Union values and fundamental rights and create an open and interoperable metaverse. The global market size of the metaverse is estimated to exceed 800 billion euros by 2030.
Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager highlighted the importance of taking a people-based approach to shape the emerging field of the metaverse in accordance with EU digital rights and principles. Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday, she stated that “We need to have people at the centre and shape it according to our EU digital rights and principles, to address the risks regarding privacy or disinformation. We want to make sure Web 4.0 becomes an open, secure, trustworthy, fair and inclusive digital environment for all.”
The European Commission plan includes bringing together creators, media companies, and others to create an industry ecosystem as well as setting up regulatory sandboxes to help companies test out the metaverse. Skills development programs and virtual public services will additionally be rolled out in the metaverse. Moreover, Vestager stated the importance of addressing risks regarding privacy or disinformation, emphasizing that there are no current plans to regulate the metaverse, but existing rules on privacy, market power, and artificial intelligence are expected to apply.
The move marks an attempt by the EU to prevent Big Tech dominance in the area. Facebook owner Meta Platforms, Microsoft, and Apple are all attempting to launch metaverse products or services. The initiative is ambitious – the global market size of the metaverse is estimated to exceed €800 billion by 2030.
The new plan presents an opportunity to seize the initiative in the metaverse, but it also comes with a range of challenges. To unlock the enormous potential of the metaverse, the EU must ensure free competition and create an environment which allows for the development of new services and applications. A critical factor in achieving this is to have a regulatory framework that is flexible yet enforceable.
The EU will need to continue to set high standards and promote best practices to ensure a high-quality experience for all users of the metaverse. The Commission is set to conduct a wide-range of research into the benefits, challenges, and opportunities presented by the metaverse to better understand its potential, including the potential for social and economic opportunities.
Overall, the Commission’s plan to lead the way in the metaverse is ambitious and looks to set the EU up for success in the ever-evolving Web 4.0. It will be interesting to see how this plan is adopted and implemented in the coming weeks and months.