The European Commission (EC) has come to an agreement on the €7.5 billion budget for the Digital Europe program. The goal is to “improve Europe’s competitiveness in the global digital economy and achieve technological sovereignty.” The EC said it seeks to support the digital transformation that will “guarantee high-quality public services benefiting citizens and businesses.”
The political agreement was reached today (December 14, 2020) with formal approval by the European Parliament and Council anticipated to take place soon with the program starting in January 2021. The budget will span a time period from 2021 to 2o27.
The plan is wide-ranging touching many different sectors of the European economy. A draft “Orientation” for 2021-2022 was previously published outlining potential goals:
- Making Europe a top supercomputing region globally through the acquisition of at least one exascale supercomputer by the end of 2021, 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, environment/climate, mobility, manufacturing and energy;
- Enhancing cybersecurity by deploying a pan-European quantum communication infrastructure and supporting the set-up of a certification scheme for cybersecurity products;
- Addressing the shortages of digital experts in the EU through dedicated Master’s programmes for artificial intelligence, 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 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.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) impacts most sectors of industry including financial services. Other areas of focus overlap with the Fintech realm.
Blockchain is frequently mentioned in the draft. For example:
“Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) should be seen as a crosscutting enabling technology that can support the validation of transactions, the development of data spaces and empowerment of citizens, public services and businesses to control and share access to data in a trusted, distributed, secure, transparent and verifiable way.”
The allocation of the budget has been segregated as follows:
- €2.2 billion – Super computing
- €2.1 billion – Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- €1.7 billion – Cybersecurity
- €580 million – Advanced Digital Skills
- €1.1 billion – Ensuring wide use of digital tech.
The info sheet may be downloaded or viewed below.