European Union lawmakers want the 27-nation bloc to take the lead on shaping the metaverse in order to reduce technological dependencies on other countries and support EU businesses.
The call was part of a report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection on opportunities, risks and policy implications of virtual worlds. The metaverse is a collection of virtual worlds forming an imagined future internet that is a shared, interactive and potentially immersive digital environment. The committee adopted the report on Tuesday with 31 votes in favor and two against.
The committee’s work follows the European Commission’s plans for the metaverse published in July. The EU executive body didn’t propose any laws to cover the virtual worlds but said supervision of the metaverse needs new standards and global governance. The commission’s strategy on Web4 and the metaverse defines virtual worlds as “persistent, immersive environments based on 3D and extended reality (XR) technologies.”
The committee report notes that, so far, metaverse projects have been developed by “a few companies based outside the EU, which have the necessary resources and financial capabilities” and calls for the EU to take a leading role instead.
“Europe cannot afford to lag behind in the next digital revolution nor can we repeat past mistakes,” said Pablo Arias Echeverría, the rapporteur shepherding the initiative through the parliament. “As we step into Web 4.0 with the development of virtual worlds, we have to lay a foundation, rooted in strong EU digital rules, guiding principles and values. Europe has to lead this transition, placing citizens at the heart of our digital future!”
The lawmakers call for “fostering a level playing field to bolster European businesses” and creating a suitable policy framework engaging other countries.
“Risks related to mental health, data protection, consumer protection, cyberviolence need to be addressed,” a statement on the report said.
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