The availability of high-speed broadband Internet and access to digital service infrastructures are the elementary units of a digital single market, allowing communication, services and business to grow -allowing areas such as e-commerce and e-government to exploit their full potential.
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) supports trans- European networks and infrastructures in the sectors of transport, telecommunications and energy. In this context the European Commission has proposed for the first time a series of guidelines covering the objectives and priorities for broadband networks and digital service infrastructures in the field of telecommunications.
The telecommunications part of CEF has a budget of 1.14 billion euros, out of which 170 million euros are for Broadband networks, while 970 million euros are dedicated to Digital Service Infrastructures (DSIs) delivering networked cross-border services for citizens, businesses and public administrations. Supported projects are to contribute to:
Digital Service Infrastructure projects deploy trans-European digital services based upon mature technical and organisational solutions in areas as diverse as electronic identification, online dispute resolution and interoperable health services. The projects contribute to improvements in daily life of Europeans through digital inclusion, to the connectivity and interoperability of European digital services, and therefore the development of a Digital Single Market.
CEF supports basic and re-usable digital services, known as building blocks, as well as more complex digital services. The building blocks can be combined with each other and integrated with the more complex services.
Building blocks supported so far include: eIdentification; eSignature; eInvoicing; eDelivery; and Automated Translation. The full catalogue of reusable digital services is available here.
More complex digital services supported so far cover, among others, the areas of safer internet, access to reusable public sector information, cyber security, eHealth, and online dispute resolution.
CEF is implemented via annual Work Programmes, identifying the priorities and the actions to be launched during the year. Concerning DSIs, the annual Work Programmes 2014 and 2015 are currently being implemented. The annual Work Programme for 2016 is being currently defined and will be adopted by the end of the year.
CEF offers funding opportunities either via calls for tenders to procure services for the core components provided by the European Commission, or calls for proposals (grants) to help linking the national infrastructure in the Member States to the core components. The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) is implementing the CEF Telecom calls for proposals on behalf of the Commission. More information on the calls is available on INEA's website.
The Broadband component of the programme seeks to contribute to the achievement of the Digital Agenda targets of all European households having access to internet connections of 30 Megabits per Second by 2020, and of 50% of households subscribing to internet connections above 100 Megabits per Second by 2020.
In view of these targets, CEF aims at facilitating an efficient flow of private and public investments to stimulate the deployment and modernisation of broadband networks.
Across the whole multi-annual financial framework (2014-2020), 15% of the CEF budget shall be allocated to Broadband. At least one third of the broadband projects financially supported under CEF shall aim at speeds above 100Mbps.