This study analyses both the 2014-2020 ESIF Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes and cloud-related projects supported by the ESIF during the programming period 2007-2013 in nine EU countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia). The study proposes guidelines, good practice and lessons learnt for ESIF Managing Authorities and stakeholders, including SMEs.
Moving to cloud computing enables initiatives such as private and public sector digitisation and economic modernisation, optimal use of data centre capacity, easy and cost-efficient access to state-of-the-art digital services and innovative applications, and cost-efficient IT and energy usage. It can also contribute to projects that make use of big data analytics and the Internet of Things.
The study clearly indicates that European Structural and Investment Funds can stimulate regional digital development by direct investment in cloud computing-related infrastructures, such as high performance networks giving access to data centres and even local data centres. Cloud computing can also be supported in combination with infrastructure initiatives that require advanced digital services that can be readily provided as cloud-based services.
European Structural and Investment Funds support the goals of EU cohesion policy, to promote economic growth, sustainable development, job creation, business competitiveness, and improved quality of life for citizens in EU regions and cities. In order to achieve these objectives and address the needs of EU regions, the budget allocated to cohesion policy initiatives for the programming period 2014-2020 is € 351.8 billion – almost a third of the total EU budget.
Apart from the general analysis, parts of the study were specifically conducted in the nine countries involved. A structured set of practical guidelines, made available in the corresponding languages and directed at Managing Authorities and stakeholders, provide recommendations on the potential eligibility for cloud-related projects to be co-financed by European Structural and Investment Funds within EU cohesion policy.