The four countries have agreed to work together with 20 other EU Member States towards the development of a quantum communication infrastructure (QCI) across Europe. The purpose of the QCI will be to boost European capabilities in quantum technologies, cybersecurity and industrial competitiveness.

Today in Brussels, Austria, Bulgaria and Romania signed the EuroQCI declaration, originally launched in June 2019. Its signatory countries will explore, together with the European Commission and with the support of the European Space Agency, the development and deployment within the next ten years of a European QCI. It would ultimately link sensitive public and private communication assets all over the EU, including its outermost regions, to develop a secure communication shield based on quantum technologies. This would protect national and cross-border critical infrastructures, sensitive communications, financial transactions and will ensure the long-term storage of sensitive data in areas such as healthcare and national security. Other major regions of the world are investing in similar infrastructure.

The objective now is for the signatory countries to complete their preliminary work and, by the end of this year, prepare an action plan towards building a QCI in Europe. 

Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, said:

The signatures taking place this week demonstrate the importance given by Member States to develop together a quantum communication infrastructure in Europe. This project is critical to the EU’s technological sovereignty; it will prepare the next generation of communications security with quantum-safe encryption, building on quantum entanglement properties. Such European cooperation will be essential for the EU to be able to lead the way as a global competitor in the field of quantum technologies.

Member State comments

Magnus Brunner, Secretary of State in Austria’s Ministry of Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology:

Austria is pleased to declare the support for the EuroQCI initiative. The declaration is an important step for the European Union towards more independence and technological sovereignty regarding data protection. We believe that quantum technologies will be one of the key mechanics in our digital future, and an important player for data safety across Europe.

Karina Angelieva, Bulgaria’s Deputy Minister of Education and Science:

Quantum technologies and quantum computing should be amongst the priorities for inclusive European research and innovation. Uniting innovative talents and key stakeholders in these areas could both inspire many young people across Europe to take up a research career or innovation path, and bring concrete advancement in these areas. I hope that this Declaration will serve as a driver for new partnerships in Europe, beyond the well-known regions and across borders, with a global European impact and on the future prosperity and security of our societies.

Simon Kollerup, Denmark's Minister of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs:

The development of quantum technologies creates both new possibilities and new challenges. We find it important to support the reality that the consumers and businesses will find themselves in. As such, the EuroQCI could well develop itself into a useful tool here.

Dragoș Ciuparu, Romania's State Secretary for Research:

A quantum-secure Europe is a stronger Europe. Quantum communications and quantum technologies are strategic assets in the 21st century, and no European country should be left outside.  Today, Romania joins the EuroQCI community to build the future quantum internet. We will actively contribute to the development of quantum technologies by playing to our strengths: lasers, nanotechnologies and quantum theory, among others. As one of the driving technologies of the 21st century, quantum technologies will have a major impact on our lives by making Europe a better, safer and more competitive place to live and work.

Background

The EuroQCI declaration was launched in June 2019 at the Digital Assembly in Bucharest and signed by Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, and Spain. Hungary, Portugal and Poland joined the initiative in July 2019. Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Finland, France, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden joined in December 2019, and the Czech Republic in early 2020.

In an important step towards making the QCI a reality, OPENQKD, a three-year pilot project funded by the Commission and set to run for three years, began work in September 2019. It is developing an experimental testbed using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), which makes use of the inherent randomness of quantum measurements to produce high quality cryptographic keys to secure the transmission and storage of sensitive information and data. QKD has the potential to protect sensitive governmental communications, online voting systems, financial transactions and critical communication infrastructure, and ensure the long-term storage of sensitive health, national security and defence-related data, and will be the first service to make use of the QCI once it is operational.