The QCI would ultimately link sensitive communication assets all over the EU, using quantum technologies to ensure the secure transmission and storage of important information. The plan is for it to consist of two elements: one based on earth, making use of existing fibre communication networks linking strategic sites at national and cross-border level, and the other based in space, to enable coverage of long distances across the EU and other continents. The first service to make use of it would be Quantum Key Distribution, an extremely secure form of encryption with the potential to keep confidential data, power grids, government communications and digital transactions safe.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said:
Cyber-threats are becoming an everyday reality, and Europe needs to be prepared and ensure that it remains ahead in the technological race. The planned quantum communication infrastructure will make a real difference to the security of our sensitive communications and data, and will help to keep our citizens safe.
Manuel Heitor, Portugal’s Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, added:
We are actively participating in building the future through strengthening European innovative platforms that explore the frontiers of knowledge to facilitate new means of communication and explore new horizons to achieving the European project.
The QCI declaration was launched at the Digital Assembly, held in Bucharest in June 2019, and Portugal is the ninth country to sign it. The signatories are pledging to work together and with the European Commission on an action plan exploring the benefits and feasibility of building a QCI in Europe. They hope to complete this preliminary work by the end of 2020.