On Wednesday 21 November, MEPs voted on the budget of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry (ITRE). A first-ever programme for a digital Europe will be put in place in the next programming period (2021-2027) with a total budget of 9.2 billion euro. This will aim to increase the EU’s international competitiveness and to develop and strengthen Europe’s strategic digital capabilities.
The programme for a digital Europe is in line with the strategy for a digital single market. Launched in 2015, the strategy aimed, through the transformation of the 28 national markets into a single market, to remove legislative, financial and security barriers to citizens’ access to goods and services. This brand new programme represents a real step forward as for the first time all digital calls for projects will be grouped under a single programme. Indeed, until now, calls for projects such as ACTIVAGE (a project to involve new stakeholders and their technologies in order to implement technologies based on the Internet of Things (IoT)) and Calls for Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) were mostly funded under various programmes such as H2020.
This brand new program will therefore focus on five areas:
– “Supercomputers” (2.7 billion euro) whose objective is to develop and strengthen high-performance computing and data processing in Europe
– “Artificial Intelligence (AI)” (2.5 billion euro) to provide public authorities and companies with better access to AI facilities
– “Cybersecurity and Trust” (2 billion euro) to promote the EU’s cyber defence and cybersecurity industry
– e-Skills” (700 million euro) which will provide the opportunity to acquire advanced e-skills through training and internships provided to employees of small and medium-sized enterprises and administrations
– “Ensuring wide use of digital technologies in all sectors of the economy and society” (€1.3 billion) to ensure the digital transformation of public administration and public services
It should be noted that the “Cybersecurity and trust” domain has been developed to deal with the lack of equipment in the face of cyber-attacks and the increasing number of attempts to steal data, commit fraudulent acts, or even destabilize governments. Indeed, in 2016, there were more than 4,000 attacks per ransom per day and 80% of European companies experienced at least one cyber security incident. For example, an EU Cybersecurity Agency will be set up to assist Member States in the management of cyber-attacks, as well as a new European certification system to ensure the safe use of products and services in the digital environment.
The Digital Europe programme therefore offers a wide range of opportunities to develop key capabilities such as high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, Cybersecurity and advanced digital skills in Europe. This programme is therefore crucial in order to strengthen Europe’s leading position on the world stage on the road to digital transformation against Singapore and the United States.