BRUSSELS, Belgium — The negotiators of the Council and of the European Parliament December 14, 2020, struck a provisional deal on a new programme, Digital Europe, which will promote large-scale deployment of state-of-the art technology, such as artificial intelligence and the latest cybersecurity tools, to speed up the digital transformation of European societies and economies. The programme will run for the duration of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027, with a substantial overall budget of €7 588 million.
“Reinforced digital capacities will bring real added value for EU citizens, and this is even more true as the global pandemic continues to hold us in its grip. It is unclear when the COVID-19 experience will be over, but it is clear that digital services are becoming a key driver of our economic growth and that the role of digital technologies will grow even stronger. It is also evident that the digital sector will play a key role in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery, which makes the Digital Europe programme a vital element of the recovery plan,” Peter Altmaier, German Federal minister for economic affairs and energy, president of the Council.
The Digital Europe programme will provide funding for projects in five crucial areas, each with their own indicative budget:
- High performance computing: €2 226 914 000
- Artificial intelligence: €2 061 956 000
- Cbersecurity and trust: €1 649 566 000
- Advanced digital skills: €577 347 000
- Deployment, best use of digital capacities, and interoperability: €1 072 217 000
A network of European digital innovation hubs will provide access to technological expertise for businesses – in particular SMEs – and public administrations. These hubs will bring together industry, businesses and administrations in need of new technological solutions on the one hand, and companies that have market-ready solutions on the other. With a broad geographical coverage across Europe, the hubs will play a central role in the implementation of the programme.
The programme will be put into practice through multiannual work programmes covering one or more of the five action areas. It will involve co-financing from member states and, when needed, from the private sector. The co-financing rate will be established in the work programmes. The work programmes will also set out the eligibility criteria for the actions under the Digital Europe programme. Grants under the programme may cover up to 100 percent of the eligible costs.
Digital Europe will be complementary to a number of other programmes supporting digital transition, such as Horizon Europe, which focuses on research and technological development, and the digital aspects of the Connecting Europe Facility.
The provisional agreement reached today is subject to approval by the Council. It will now be submitted to the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) for endorsement.