What is CEF?
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a funding programme that supports trans-European networks and infrastructures in the sectors of transport, telecommunications and energy. For the current programming period of 2014-2020, the telecommunications pillar of the CEF has a budget of €1 billion. This funding has been used, most notably, to advance the Digital Service Infrastructures in the European Union, in order to provide networked cross-border services for citizens, businesses and public administrations. The current CEF telecommunications funding has also been mobilised to invest in broadband infrastructures, with the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (CEBF), and to provide citizens with free public Wi-Fi with the Wifi4EU voucher programme for municipalities. The first of two calls for proposals for 2019 in the CEF Telecom programme closed on 14 May. It covered the areas of Automated Translation, eIdentification and eSignature, eDelivery, eInvoicing, Europeana and the EU Student eCard. The second call will open on 4 July, and will address the areas of Public Open Data, Cybersecurity, eProcurement, eHealth, eJustice, and a European Platform for Skills and Jobs and Business Registers Interconnection System.
Going Forward: CEF2 Digital – EU investment in digital infrastructures
An EU-wide, very high capacity, secure and resilient digital connectivity infrastructure is the basis for a fully functional Digital Single Market, accessible to all EU citizens, as well as for the deployment of the next generation of digital services. The CEF2 Digital programme therefore aims to support and stimulate digital infrastructure investments in Member States for the period of 2021-2027, with the objective of supporting Member States in meeting the objectives of the Gigabit Society Strategy. A proposed budget of €3 billion is deemed the minimum necessary to achieve support for strategic infrastructure projects across the European Union.
The CEF2 Digital programme will enable the European Commission to co-fund projects that will improve digital connectivity infrastructure in Member States and regions. Going forward, the potential areas identified for investment are:
- Cross-border 5G corridors along major European transport routes;
- Connectivity for 5G smart communities in Europe, including with deployment of very high-capacity networks, in areas where socio-economic drivers are located;
- Backbone networks of strategic importance, such as for High Performance Computing (HPC), EU cloud infrastructures and submarine cables between and within Member States and between the EU and third countries;
- Synergy projects between digital, transport and energy infrastructures.
Given the widened scope of the CEF Digital programme branch, Digital Service Infrastructures, which have been funded under the CEF Telecommunications programme up to now, will in future be funded by the Digital Europe Programme (DEP).
Have your say on the CEF2 Digital programme
Given the importance of the CEF Digital funding programme to the success of the Digital Single Market, the European Commission is seeking views from all relevant European stakeholders, including citizens, industry, academic institutions and the public sector, in order to orientate and align its investment priorities. We also seek inputs on how best to design the programme, in order to improve the business case for investment in digital infrastructure deployment.
The public consultation will aid the European Commission to prepare the implementation roadmap for the CEF2 Digital investment programme and inform the preparation of the first multi-annual work programme starting in 2021. Alongside a study and meetings with stakeholders, the results of this consultation will feed into the concrete funding proposals that the Commission will make.