The European Commission (EC) outlined a plan to take a leading position in metaverse development, in an attempt to ensure the continent is able to compete with US technology companies which are investing heavily in the sector.

It stated it will adopt a new strategy for Web 4.0 and virtual worlds to ensure openness, security and trust.

The EC also aims to create a “fair and inclusive digital environment for EU citizens, businesses and public administrations”.

It described Web 4.0 as an integration between digital and real objects, and environments, with enhanced interactions between humans and machines, while tipping the global market to grow from €27 billion in 2022 to more than €800 billion by 2030.

The market watchdog has been working on encouraging investment in the sector across the bloc since September 2022 and its latest initiative aims to reflect European Union values and fundamental rights to create an open and interoperable metaverse.

Its plan sets out four main aims including building a talent pool of virtual world specialists and backing a European Web 4.0 industrial ecosystem by bringing together different players through R&D and establishing sandboxes to test tools.

Thirdly, it will push virtual public services through governments and finally shape global standards for open and interoperable virtual worlds, “ensuring that they will not be dominated by a few big players”.

Indeed, the last point refers to companies including Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Google and, most recently, Apple, which are making major investments into metaverse-related products.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, said through the initiative, “Europe throws its hat in the ring to become a world leader”.