As part of the next long-term EU budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, a political agreement was reached for the adoption of the Digital Europe programme, the EU’s programme focused on building the strategic digital capacities of the EU and on facilitating the wide deployment of digital technologies, to be used by Europe’s citizens and businesses.

picture of a seed about to grow

 

What is the Digital Europe programme?

  • As part of the next long-term EU budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, the Digital Europe programme focuses on building the strategic digital capacities of the EU and on facilitating the wide deployment of digital technologies, to be used by citizens and businesses.
  • With a proposed overall budget of €7.58 billion, it will shape and support the digital transformation of Europe’s society and economy.
  • The programme will boost investments in supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills, while ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society.

What is the proposed budget for 2021-2027?

€7.58 billion for:

  • High Performance Computing (€2.2 billion)
  • Artificial Intelligence (€2 billion)
  • Cybersecurity (€1.6 billion)
  • Advanced digital skills (€577 million)
  • Ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society (€1 billion)

Why do we need a Digital Europe programme?

  • To compete globally. Other regions in the world invest huge amounts of public capital in advanced digital capacities in order to boost their competitiveness, modernise their public sector and protect their society and economy. For example, the US and China spend €10-20 billion annually on artificial intelligence alone.
  • To achieve scale through collective co-investment. Given the risks involved, the size of investments needed and the scale required to create lucrative user markets, Europe needs to work together.
  • To regain control over Europe’s value chains and ensure Europe’s strategic autonomy.
  • To better respond to Europe’s economic and societal challenges (e.g. climate, health, mobility, public services) by providing the necessary digital infrastructure and services.
  • To ensure broad take up of digital technologies across all regions of Europe, especially where demand is greatest.

How to achieve our goals?

  • By building strategic digital capacity.
  • By increasing the uptake of digital technologies in the private sector and in areas of public interest.
  • By boosting investment in high performance computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced digital skills.
  • By strengthening the network of European Digital Innovation Hubs to ensure wide use of digital technologies in all regions across Europe.

Support for European high impact projects

Together with other EU programmes, Digital Europe will contribute to the deployment of high impact projects that aim to build on Europe’s strengths and ensure robust European industrial and technology coverage of key parts of the digital supply chain through public and private effort.

Examples of High impact projects include:

  • World-leading computing and data processing capacities: HPC and Quantum
  • European low-power microprocessor initiative
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cybersecurity shield: Quantum communication infrastructure (EuroQCI)
  • 5G and beyond: towards smart high-speed cross-border connectivity networks
  • European Blockchain Services Infrastructure
  • Linking international and national environmental data to fight climate change
  • Digital Innovation Hubs: Enabling SMEs to benefit from the digital transformation

Depending on the targets, beneficiaries and deliverables, financing will come from a combination of relevant EU programmes, national and regional budgets, including Digital Europe, the digital part of Horizon Europe, European Regional and Development Fund, Invest EU,Member States and the private sector.

Successful initiatives in areas such as microelectronics and advanced computing have shown that it is possible to enhance competitiveness by pooling efforts and resources to achieve common goals.

reversing the trend: revenues of main EU semiconductor companies  grew from 17 billion euros in 2008 to 26 in 2018

Digital Europe activities in the first two years

Building Essential Digital Capacities

High Performance Computing: World-leading computing and data handling capacities

  • Acquire exascale and new petascale machines while upgrading existing supercomputers.
  • Develop European access to supercomputers and federate European HPC and data resources.
  • Increase the use of supercomputers and improve access in areas of public interest such as health, environment and security, and in industry, including small and medium-sized enterprises.

Artificial Intelligence: Working on data, putting data to work

  • Establish EU-wide common data spaces building on public and private sector data sets.
  • Develop large-scale reference testing and experimentation facilities and make libraries of algorithms easily accessible to all, based on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
  • Data spaces cover key industrial and societal sectors (e.g. green deal, mobility, manufacturing, agriculture, cultural heritage, health, media and public administrations data) and high value datasets from the public sector (including space, geospatial and earth observation/environment data).

Cybersecurity and Trust: Creating a cyber-shield for Europe

Cyber-incidents and cyber-attacks cause the loss of billions of euros every year. Cybersecurity, trust and privacy are the foundations of a prosperous European Digital Single Market.

  • Build a cybersecurity shield by deploying a quantum-secured public communication infrastructure
    • Deploy Quantum Key Distribution, an ultra-secure form of encryption, in large-scale networks.
    • Strengthening the union’s joint preparedness, situation awareness and response to cyber threats.
  • Complete certification schemes and testbeds for 5G and extend it to IoT tool providers, SMEs and hospitals.
  • Support faster validation and market take-up of innovative cybersecurity solutions by businesses and public buyers.
  • Support the implementation of relevant EU legislation and political initiatives: in particular the NIS Directive, the Cyber Security Act, the European Cybersecurity Competence centre and network, the cyber Blueprint and Joint Cyber Unit, the 5G security toolbox.
  • Strengthen capacity-building and cross-border cooperation on cybersecurity.
    • among Member State bodies and industry stakeholders, including Information Sharing and Analysis Centres (ISACs).

Advanced Digital Skills: Equipping today’s citizens for tomorrow’s challenges

  • Support specialised education programmes or modules in cutting-edge digital technologies developed together with EU excellence centres in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and high performance computing. The funding available could fund up to 15 to 25 new Master’s programmes training 7500 to 12500 digital specialists.
  • Support short-term specialised training courses in advanced digital technologies for job seekers and employed people, especially in SMEs by equipping them with the competences that will enable the deployment of advanced digital technologies across all sectors of the economy.
  • Support job placements in companies and research centres where advanced digital technologies are developed or used.
  • Support the digital transformation of the education sector at European level.

Accelerating the Best Use of Technologies

European Digital Innovation Hubs

Set up a network of European Digital Innovation Hubs covering all regions of the EU.

Aiming for High Impact Deployments and widening the best use of digital technologies

  • Supporting the European Green Deal through different initiatives (Destination Earth Initiative, climate neutral and smart communities, product passport).
  • Accelerating the uptake of Blockchain in Europe
  • Addressing public services (digital transformation for better and sustainable health and care, reinforcing the European Digital Government Ecosystem of services, supporting the digitalization of justice, and law enforcement agencies).
  • Enhancing the confidence in digital transformation (by protecting children and young people as internet users, and by tackling online disinformation).

 

diagram explanining the different interactions between the pillars of the Digital Europe programme

Timeline

  • December 2020: Political agreement reached on the Commission Proposal for the creation of the Digital Europe Programme
  • Q1 2021: Adoption of the Programme and launch of the first calls