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CEF 2 Digital – Equipping backbone networks with high-performance and secure DNS resolution infrastructures – Works – 2021

The 2nd generation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF-2 programme) “Digital” strand (2021-2027) aims to support and catalyse investments in digital connectivity infrastructures of common interest.

14 million euro

Appeal framework

Institution European Commission
Beneficiaries All beneficiaries
Regions European Union

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Priorities and funded actions


  • To offer a high-end alternative to existing dominant non-EU public resolvers, leading to a more resilient, more secure and diversified DNS resolution offering for EU internet users
  • To achieve autonomy of DNS resolving, diminishing the dependency on major public resolvers established outside the EU, and reducing vulnerability to outages of these resolvers
  • To safeguard EU internet users’ data and privacy
  • To increase protection against malicious activities based on both global and local (EU) threat feeds and intelligence
  • To test and deploy innovative technologies to enhance internet access security and privacy


Priority 1 – Customer base: support the deployment of a recursive European DNS resolver service infrastructure serving EU-based internet users in need of privacy-respecting and secure DNS resolution to access resources on the internet

Priority 2 – Availability and service level: provide wide geographic coverage in the EU, and ensure high reliability and uptime, as well as low latency of DNS resolution through among others a large distributed footprint (Points of Presence) and redundancy

Priority 3 – Accessibility: ensure broad accessibility from user equipment, such as home routers and user devices, as well as from user software, such as major operating systems and browsers

Priority 4 – Discoverability: the service shall be widely discoverable by major browsers, operating systems or user equipment

Priority 5 – Premium and wholesale services: provide opt-in paid premium services for enhanced security (e.g. ad hoc filtering, monitoring, 24×7 support), tailored to specific sectorial needs (e.g. cloud, finance, health, transport), as well as wholesale resolution services for other digital service providers, including ISPs and cloud service providers

Priority 6 – Residential services: offer to residential internet end-users strictly opt-in and fully transparent parental control filtering services

Priority 7 – Security: state-of-the-art protection against cybersecurity threats by blocking malware, phishing and other threats based on reliable and up to date global threat feeds and own threat feeds developed on the basis of own threat detection and analysis as well as information exchange with trusted partners (e.g. CERTs), addressing in particular local threats (e.g. based on EU-languages)

Priority 8 – Data processing: data processing shall be established through transparent and published policy and rules, in full compliance with EU rules

Priority 9 – Internet Standards: the service infrastructure shall conform to the latest security and privacy-enhancing standards (e.g. HTTPS, DNSSEC), including DNS encryption (e.g. DNS over TLS (DoT) and DoH) and be fully IPv6 compliant

Priority 10 – Best practices: notwithstanding other requirements of this call or applicable law, the service infrastructure should be designed in line with industry best practices and guidelines for the provision of secure and privacy-preserving DNS resolution

Priority 11 – Data protection and privacy: compliant with GDPR and national rules, where applicable

Priority 12 – Lawful filtering: filtering of URLs leading to illegal content based on legal requirements applicable in the EU or in national jurisdictions (e.g. based on court orders), in full compliance with EU rules

Priority 13 – Technology/Innovation: the selected consortium will be expected to test and deploy innovative technologies, including the latest DNS security and privacy-enhancing technologies and technologies for the development and improvement of cybersecurity threat feeds, in collaboration with third-party innovators

Priority 14 – Governance/Federated structure: a federated and expandable service infrastructure with a diverse membership is preferred in order to maximise the footprint and customer base of DNS4EU across the EU, reduce costs through shared resources and ensure the long-term sustainability of DNS4EU

Among financed activities

  • Development, construction and deployment of cross-border and national DNS resolution infrastructure at physical and functional levels for the foreseen system lifetime
  • Other equipment, goods, works and services necessary to support the infrastructure services
  • Include synergetic (ancillary) elements relating to another sector of the CEF programme, i.e. energy and transport, if these synergetic elements allow to significantly improve the socio-economic, climate or environmental benefits of the action

Additional information

  • This call for proposals is an open call for proposals
  • Initial duration of the action: 36 months


  • Be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • A consortium of at least 3 applicants (beneficiaries) from 3 different eligible countries must be constituted
  • Total budget of the call: 80 million euro
  • Total budget of the topic “Equipping backbone networks with high-performance and secure DNS resolution infrastructures – Works”: 14 milion euro
  • Amount of the grant: 14 million euro
  • Co-financing rate: up to 70% of the total eligible costs

Test your eligibility

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