DIGITAL EUROPE: from EU Data Strategy to the new funding instrument for EU digitization
The EU is pursuing a digital strategy that will thrust Europe as a global leader of the digital transformation. The recently launched Data Strategy defines an ambitious approach towards digital technological development and how technology will be used to meet the climate-neutrality objectives. The required investments will be channelled from the Digital Europe programme, the Connecting Europe Facility 2 and Horizon Europe.
Digital Europe programme is a new instrument introduced by the EU for the next round of funding, 2021-2027, that builds on the success of Horizon 2020 and Connecting Europe Facility. This programme will focus on large-scale digital capacity and infrastructure building, with the objective of wide uptake and deployment across Europe of critical existing or tested innovative digital solutions.
Why is there a need for a central programme on digitization?
We can consider 3 main reasons:
- Necessary funding is so significant that no Member State can do it, in a timely way, alone
- There is a need to aggregate resources (computing power, data expertise) that are scattered throughout Europe, and
- EU-wide interoperability of public services.
What will the Digital Europe programme fund?
A proposed budget of €9.2 billion will support several key digital challenges, from artificial intelligence to cybersecurity and advanced digital skills focusing on bridging the gap between research & innovation and infrastructure investment.The programme will concentrate on the areas where no single Member State alone can ensure the level required for digital success, notably on improving efficiency and quality of services in the areas of public interest such as health, justice, mobility, environment and public administrations, and helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in adapt to digital change.
The five pillars of Digital Europe are closely interlinked and interdependent as artificial intelligence needs cybersecurity to be trustable, cybersecurity needs high performance computing to process the massive amount of data to be secured, digital services up to future standards need all three capacities and all the above need the right advanced skills.
Digital Innovation Hubs will play a central role in the implementation of the Programme to stimulate the broad adoption of advanced digital technologies by industry, by public organisations and academia. They shall act as single-entry points in accessing tested and validated technologies and promote open innovation.
These hubs have been operating in many Member States already since 2016 and they are planned to be reinforced and new hubs are planned to emerge.