Cohesion Policy making Europe fit for the digital age
EU Cohesion Policy makes a key contribution to making Europe fit for the digital age, in particular through significant financial allocations from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for its policy objective aiming at Enhancing access to, and use and quality of, information and communication technologies , totalling around EUR 20 billion over the current investment period 2014-2020. See the latest information on digital ERDF investments, achievements and project examples.
The focus of digital investments under Cohesion Policy is to overcome the digital divide both socially, economically and geographically, by reaping the benefits of digitisation for citizens, companies and governments so that no EU region is left behind, in particular by:
- supporting digitalisation of firms, including for the take up of AI and other advanced digital technologies, Digital Innovation Hubs, and digital start-ups,
- fostering research and innovation related to digital technologies (see information on Smart Specialisation Strategies with a digital priorities),
- fostering the roll-out of broadband in remote and rural regions,
- improving access to e-government, e-health, and digital skills, and making public data accessible as fuel for AI,
- interregional cooperation projects,
- enhancing the digital transition of cities via the Urban Agenda for the EU.
Cohesion Policy also helps make Europe fit for the digital age by:
- improving the strategic policy frameworks for digital investments: The EU countries and regions had to develop digital growth strategies and broadband plans for the 2014-2020 ERDF investments. Having an up-to-date national or regional broadband plan in line with the European Electronic Communications Code and, in view of the EU State aid rules, is also an enabling condition for the 2021-2027 ERDF programmes’ digital connectivity investments.
- enhancing the administrative capacities of national and regional authorities to prepare and manage broadband deployment via the Network of Broadband Competence Offices (BCO) and the TAIEX-REGIO peer-to-peer facility.
In view of experimenting with new approaches and for the preparation of the Cohesion Policy programmes 2021-2027, the Commission launched:
- Interregional partnerships along digital value chains under the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platforms and pilots for interregional innovation investments, for example on 3D printing, cybersecurity, High Tech Farming, AI and human-machine interfaces, or traceability and big data.
- A Pilot Action for Regions in Industrial Transition in which the role of digital technologies and automation is addressed, together with globalisation, decarbonisation and skills issues (see OECD report).
- 2014-2020 thematic objective 2: Information and communication technologies
- Cohesion Policy Data Story on making Europe fit for the digital age
- Open Data portal – latest data on ERDF investments and achievements and project examples
- Project examples
- Lessons learnt and good practice examples for ERDF ICT related investments
- Guide to High-Speed Broadband Investment
- Network of Broadband Competence Offices (BCO)