What are your views on the ongoing digital transformation of our society and economy? What do you think Europe’s role should be? How can we best ensure that citizens, businesses and public sector reap the benefits of the latest digital technologies? The Commission is currently planning the Digital Europe programme, which would bring direct investment worth a total of €9.2 billion (subject to the agreement of the Council and the European Parliament) for the deployment of innovative digital technologies in five key areas: supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills, and ensuring a wide use of these digital technologies across the economy and society in line with Europe’s ambitious sustainability goals and values. Its goal will be to improve Europe's competitiveness in the global digital economy and increase its technological autonomy, by building capacity, testing digital technologies, and deploying them.
The programme will be a unique opportunity for the EU to substantially contribute to investment in essential digital capacities that no single Member State can implement alone. As part of the co-design process that will be integral to Digital Europe, ensuring that it reflects what matters most for European society and businesses, the Commission has launched an online consultation. It will target a range of stakeholders: SMEs and larger companies, public administrations at all levels, research organisations and academia, NGOs, citizens’ associations, and private citizens. The consultation will close on 25 October, and you can access it here.
The inputs received will help the Commission finalise the Orientations for Digital Europe, of which a draft can be viewed online. These will then shape the work programmes and calls for proposals for the programme’s first two years (2021-2022). The consultation will be key to identifying readiness to participate in the programme, and will also offer a chance to express any concerns. A milestone in this participative process will be the Digital Excellence Forum at the upcoming ICT Proposers' Day, to be held in Helsinki on 19-20 September 2019.
What can be done with Digital Europe
The programme’s activities will reinforce the positive impact of the Digital Single Market’s policy achievements. Its aims include:
- making Europe a top supercomputing region globally through the acquisition of at least two exascale supercomputers by the end of 2022, upgrading existing supercomputers and extending the use of advanced computing to industry, including SMEs
- setting up and making accessible Europe-wide data spaces and testing and experimentation facilities for artificial intelligence in the areas of health, manufacturing, environment/climate, mobility and energy
- enhancing cybersecurity by deploying a pan-European quantum communication infrastructure and supporting the establishment of a certification scheme for cybersecurity products
- edicated Master’s programmes for AI, advanced computing and cybersecurity
- providing SMEs and public administrations access to the latest digital technologies by setting up a network of Digital Innovation Hubs
- ensuring a successful digital transformation of health and care services with the EU-wide deployment of innovative and cost-effective data-driven tools and services based on technologies like AI, blockchain and data analytics
- making ICT products and services sustainable, by prioritising their energy efficiency as well as climate neutrality, reparability, lifespan and recycling
- deploying open, interoperable, trustworthy urban digital platforms tailored to communities’ needs, offering easy standardised access to new datasets, and the large scale roll-out of AI-driven services in Smart Energy, Smart Mobility, waste and secondary resource management, industry and (re)manufacturing, healthcare and e-government.
In June 2018, the European Commission proposed the creation of a Digital Europe programme, a new funding instrument dedicated to digitisation within the EU’s next budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-27.
The EU institutions reached a provisional agreement on Digital Europe, excluding budget-related issues, on 13 February 2019. The European Parliament endorsed the provisional agreement on 17 April 2019. While the institutional negotiation of the next MFF continues, the Commission has started to prepare the Digital Europe programme’s implementation.
The online survey, available in all EU languages, consists of a number of online questions and the possibility to provide additional comments if desired. It will be open from 25 July to 25 October 2019, and anyone with an interest in the digital transformation of Europe’s economy and society is encouraged to participate.