The European Commission proposes to create the first ever Digital Europe programme and invest €9.2 billion to align the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027 with increasing digital challenges. The proposal includes work on digital skills.
With the Digital Single Market strategy the EU has established a regulatory framework that is fit for the digital age. This needs to be matched with equally ambitious funding and investments in the Digital Europe programme for increasing EU's international competitiveness as well as developing and reinforcing Europe's strategic digital capacities.
These key capacities concern high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced digital skills and ensuring their wide use and accessibility across the economy and society by businesses and the public sector alike.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said:
"One of the main pillars of the programme is investment in our citizens to acquire the advanced digital skills they need for accessing and using the latest digital technologies."
The Commission's proposal focusses on five areas:
1. Supercomputers: €2.7 billion will fund projects to build-up and strengthen supercomputing and data processing in Europe, which is crucial for the development of many areas – from health care and renewable energy to car safety and cybersecurity.
2. Artificial intelligence (AI): €2.5 billion is planned to help spread AI across the European economy and society. the aim is to boost investments to make the most out AI, while taking into account the socio-economic changes brought about by AI and to ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework.
3. Cybersecurity and trust: €2 billion will be invested into safeguarding the EU's digital economy, society and democracies through boosting cyber defence and the EU's cybersecurity industry, financing state-of-the-art cybersecurity equipment and infrastructure as well as supporting the development of the necessary skills and knowledge.
4. Digital skills: €700 million will ensure that the current and future workforce will have the opportunity to easily acquire advanced digital skills through long-and short-term training courses and on-the-job traineeships, regardless of their Member State of residence. In the Digital Europe programme, the Digital Innovation Hubs will carry out targeted programmes to help small and medium-sized enterprises and public administrations to equip their personnel with the needed advanced skills to be able access the new opportunities offered by supercomputing, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
5. Ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society: €1.3 billion will ensure the digital transformation of public administration and public services and their EU-wide interoperability and facilitate access to technology and knowhow for all businesses, notably SMEs.
Digital Europe is a new programme and part of the "Single Market, Innovation and Digital" chapter of the EU's long-term budget proposal. Building on the Digital Single Market strategy launched in May 2015 and its achievements over the past years, its main objective is to shape Europe's digital transformation to the benefit of citizens and businesses.