Commissioner Breton

Europe has made the historic choice of solidarity to face the crisis and finance recovery and reconstruction. While the pandemic has revealed our dependence on products, critical materials and certain value chains, Europe must now take its strategic interests into its own hands in order to ensure sovereignty, which has become a common necessity. In a world where the balance of power between blocs is hardening, the race for autonomy and power is in full swing.

The balance of power between blocs is hardening

Faced with the "technological war" being waged by the United States and China, Europe must now lay the foundations of its sovereignty for the next 20 years. It is not a question of giving in to the temptation of isolation or withdrawal into oneself, which is contrary to our interests, our values and our culture. It is a question of making choices that will be decisive for the future of our fellow citizens by developing European technologies and alternatives, without which there can be neither autonomy nor sovereignty. Mobilised around major projects developed in partnership, Europe has demonstrated in the past that it has the capacity to play a leading role on the world stage. The time has come to take back the common initiative.  

Our digital sovereignty rests on 3 inseparable pillars: computing power, control over our data and secure connectivity

At the forefront of the major challenges is our digital sovereignty, which rests on three inseparable pillars: computing power, control over our data and secure connectivity.

Firstly, Europe's capacity to develop and produce the world's most powerful processors, including quantum ones, must be increased without further delay. These microelectronic components underpin most of the key value chains of the future: cars and connected devices, tablets and smartphones, supercomputers and edge computers, artificial intelligence and defence.

In the same vein, it is becoming imperative to have autonomous European clouds that guarantee our companies that their industrial data will not be subject to any third country law and will be protected against external cyber interference.

Finally, in addition to our broadband and 5G networks, we need to think about a constellation of satellites in low orbit to provide all Europeans, wherever they are on the Continent, with broadband connectivity, to do away with white zones and to give Europe access to the level of security offered by space-based quantum cryptology. Such a constellation would usefully complement our sovereign infrastructures Galileo for geo-localisation and Copernicus for observation. This would strengthen Europe, the world's second largest space power.  

In terms of security and defence, strengthening technological autonomy is now essential. Europe, through the European Defence Fund, has just taken a new and decisive step forward because it will make it possible to organise European cooperation in key technological projects such as drones, combat aircraft, the European tank, space capabilities and cybersecurity. The latest budget proposal will enable us to generate between €30 and €40 billion of additional collective investment over the next seven years. And to ensure that each Member State feels involved in the defence industries and makes coherent choices of European equipment. 

Make Europe the epicentre of "green tech"

On the internal market, sovereignty must also be applied to the spectrum of green technologies and make Europe the epicentre of "green tech". This requires us to strengthen our value chains, diversify our essential supplies and even relocate some production. But also to accelerate the process of industrial decarbonisation and reduce our energy dependency. For example, by giving ourselves the means to achieve European leadership on clean hydrogen. The production of hydrogen by electrolysis is particularly electricity consuming. It will be based on our decarbonated energies (wind and solar power) or on the availability of our decarbonated transition energy (nuclear and hydropower).  

Do we have the political will and the means to achieve these ambitions? The answer is yes! For all the sovereignty programmes as a whole, it is an increase of more than 20% compared to the previous budget and even 30% after the departure of the United Kingdom. As regards digital sovereignty alone, the new Digital Europe programme will enable additional investments of more than 20 billion. As for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme, its digital component has practically doubled. In addition to a tenfold increase in resources for defence, research and space are slightly up. One could always hope for more. The European Parliament has the opportunity to decide on this. Moreover, national recovery plans will themselves be able to increase the funding for our major European industrial and infrastructure projects. The crisis has given rise to a Europe of solidarity that is less naïve. A more autonomous, more resilient Europe has a new ambition. We will come back to this.