The European Commission is today proposing to create the first ever Digital Europe programme and invest €9.2 billion to align the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027 with increasing digital challenges.
With the Digital Single Market strategy we have established a regulatory framework that is fit for the digital age. This needs to be matched with equally ambitious funding and investments in the Digital Europe programme for increasing EU’s international competitiveness as well as developing and reinforcing Europe’s strategic digital capacities. These key capacities concern high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced digital skills and ensuring their wide use and accessibility across the economy and society by businesses and the public sector alike.
Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “The Digital Single Market provides the legal framework to ensure people and companies fully benefit from the digital transformation. Our aim has been to make the EU budget fit for future challenges: digital transformation is taken into account across all proposals, from transport, energy and agriculture to healthcare and culture. To reinforce this, today we are proposing more investment in artificial intelligence, supercomputing, cybersecurity, skills and eGovernment – all identified by EU leaders as the key areas for the future competitiveness of the EU.”
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: “Having the first pan-European digital programme is a major step for strengthening Europe’s world leadership in the digital transformation. We will invest in key strategic digital capacities, such as artificial intelligence, high performance computing and cybersecurity, and, as is the case with all our digital initiatives, European citizens will stay at the heart of this programme. One of the main pillars of the programme is investment in our citizens to acquire the advanced digital skills they need for accessing and using the latest digital technologies.”
The Commission’s proposal focusses on five areas:
A swift agreement on the overall long-term EU budget and its sectoral proposals is essential to ensure that EU funds start delivering results on the ground as soon as possible.
Given the urgency of the situation and the scale of the investment required, there is a strong case for EU intervention to jointly finance and coordinate actions on a scale capable of meeting the challenges brought by the digital transformation. This should ensure that the benefits of new digital technologies are fully shared.
Failing to address the investment gap quickly would risk weakening the EU’s innovation capacity and industrial competitiveness.
An agreement on the next long-term budget in 2019 would provide for a seamless transition between the current long-term budget (2014-2020) and the new one and would ensure predictability of funding to the benefit of all.
Digital Europe is a new programme and part of the “Single Market, Innovation and Digital” chapter of the EU’s long-term budget proposal. Building on the Digital Single Market strategy launched in May 2015 and its achievements over the past years, its main objective is to shape Europe’s digital transformation to the benefit of citizens and businesses.
Additional funds will allow the EU to invest more in digital economy and society. Today the Commission is also proposing to increase the budget for the digital infrastructure projects under the Connecting Europe Facility to €3 billion. The Connecting Europe Facility focuses on projects of highest European added value and particularly on cross-border connections. On digital, it will contribute to ensuring that all main socio-economic drivers such as schools, hospitals, and transport hubs, main providers of public services and digitally-intensive enterprises have access to future-oriented broadband connections by 2025 (see separate press release).
In addition to Digital Europe, financing for research and innovation in next generation digital technologies needs to be continued and reinforced in the next multiannual financial framework under Horizon Europe programme. The two programmes will work hand in hand: while Horizon Europe provides crucial investments in research and innovation, Digital Europe builds on these results to create the necessary infrastructure, as well as supporting deployment and capacity building, which in turn will provide input for future research in artificial intelligence, robotics, high-performance computing, and big data.
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Source: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4043_en.htm – Brussels, 6 June 2018