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Europe adopts digital way forward

14 December 2020, 18:18 CET
Europe adopts digital way forward

Artificial intelligence - Image by Alejandro Zorrilal Cruz

(BRUSSELS) - The EU institutions struck a provisional deal Monday on a new programme to promote large-scale deployment of state-of-the art technology such as artificial intelligence and the latest cybersecurity tools.

The Digital Europe programme, aimed at speeding up the digital transformation of European societies and economies, will run for the duration of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027, with a substantial overall budget of EUR 7,588 million.

"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," said Germany's Economics minister Peter Altmaier, for the EU presidency: "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."

The Digital Europe programme will provide funding for projects in five crucial areas, each with their own indicative budget:

  • high performance computing: EUR 2,226,914,000
  • artificial intelligence: EUR 2,061,956,000
  • cybersecurity and trust: EUR 1,649,566,000
  • advanced digital skills: EUR 577,347,000
  • deployment, best use of digital capacities, and interoperability: EUR 1,072,217,000

Under the programme, 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% of the eligible costs.

The provisional agreement, subject to approval by the EU Council, will be be submitted to the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) for endorsement.

A digital future for Europe (background information)

Long-term EU budget 2021-2027 (background information)

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