Tasks and objectives
The Competence Centre will seek to achieve its overall mission by:
- setting up and helping to coordinate the National Coordination Centres Network and the Cybersecurity Competence Community;
- implementing cybersecurity-related financial support from Horizon Europe and the Digital Europe Programme.
That will feed into the following objectives:
- contribute to the wide deployment of the latest cybersecurity technology, in particular through carrying out or supporting procurement of products and solutions;
- provide financial support and technical assistance to cybersecurity start-ups and SMEs to connect them to potential markets and to attract investment;
- support research and innovation based on a comprehensive industrial and research agenda, including large-scale research and demonstration projects in next-generation cybersecurity capabilities;
- drive high cybersecurity standards not only in technology and cybersecurity systems but also in skills development; and
- facilitate the cooperation between the civil and defence spheres with regard to dual use technologies and applications, and enhancing civil-defence synergies in relation to the European Defence Fund.
The Centre’s principal decision-making body is the Governing Board, in which all Member States take part but only those Member States which participate financially have voting rights. The voting mechanism in the Governing Board is proposed as a double majority principle requiring 75% of the financial contribution and 75% of the votes. In view of its responsibility for the Union budget, the European Commission holds 50% of the votes. The Governing Board is assisted by an Industrial and Scientific Advisory Board to ensure regular dialogue with the private sector, consumers’ organisations and other relevant stakeholders.
The European Commission proposes the Competence Centre to be funded jointly by the European Union and the participating Member States through financial contributions.
The European Commission has placed cybersecurity high on the agenda in its proposals for the next long-term EU budget for years 2021-2027, to guarantee adequate funding for this key priority. Under the new Digital Europe programme the European Commission proposes to invest EUR 2 billion into safeguarding the EU's digital economy, society and democracies through polling expertise, boosting EU's cybersecurity industry, financing state-of-the-art cybersecurity equipment and infrastructure. Cybersecurity research and innovation will additionally be supported under the Horizon Europe programme.
The Competence Centre and Network will also seek to achieve synergies with other relevant EU's programmes, such as the European Defence Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, and the Internal Security Fund.
The participating Member States should match the EU's financial contribution with investments of the same amount in line with their priorities and with co-financing of the running costs of the Centre and the Network.
Funding priorities and allocation
The concrete funding priorities will be established as part of the Competence Centres annual Work Plan, which is adopted by the Governing Board after having received input from the Industrial and Scientific Advisory Group.
It is envisioned that the bulk of the funding will be allocated through open calls for proposals and calls for tender. Stakeholders know this system from the past Research and Innovation Framework Programmes. In these cases, the Competence Centre will manage and eventually disburse financial support to recipients, which would typically be academic and research entities, industrial companies, or public authorities.
The Competence Centre will also seek to promote joint procurement of strategic cybersecurity infrastructures and tools together with one or several other entities – typically public authorities.
Some funding will be made available directly to National Coordination Centres for them to carry out tasks under this Regulation.
National Coordination Centres will also be able to financially support their respective national ecosystems through the use of so-called cascading grants.