The European Commission (EC) has recently outlined a multitude of new strategies and ideas to embrace what it is labelling as ‘Web 4.0’ functions, such as the metaverse. 

The Commission is aiming to “steer the next technological transition and ensure an open, secure, trustworthy, fair and inclusive digital environment for EU citizens, businesses and public administrations”.

Web 4.0 is treated as the next phase of Web 3.0 – which is still in the works of worldwide mainstream acceptance – and will explore the main features of the integration between digital, physical and virtual worlds. 

The EC estimates that the virtual world market size is expected to grow from €27bn in 2022, to over €800bn by 2030. 

“The Web 4.0 and virtual worlds will bring benefits for health, contribute to the green transition and better anticipate natural disasters,” stated Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age. 

“But 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.”

Key to the EC’s strategy to embrace the metaverse are four pillars in which it can guide to help map out its future plans

By the end of 2030, the Commission stated that it will promote the guiding principles for virtual worlds and work with Member States to set up a talent pipeline as well as support skill development for people within the sector. 

Another pillar is that the EC intends to bring in different players from an array of virtual worlds to scale up plans, eyeing up a partnership with Horizon Europe to foster and develop research into Web 4.0. 

Lastly, the Commission is aiming to lay out global standards for the metaverse and other virtual worlds as a means for big industry players to not take over and dominate the sector, working alongside stakeholders of companies to establish this. 

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internet Market, added: “Europe has what is takes to lead the next technological transition: innovative start-ups, rich creative content and industrial applications, a strong role as global standard-setter, and an innovation-friendly and predictable legal framework.”