The Council of the European Union, which is currently chaired by Portugal, on Tuesday (16 March) gave the green light to the Digital Europe programme to fund investment in cutting-edge technology in the EU, in areas such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, with a total budget of €7.6 billion to 2027.
In a statement, the Council – in which EU member states’ governments are represented – reports on this approval, stressing that “the new Digital Europe Programme will boost the digital transformation by providing funding for rolling out cutting-edge technology in crucial areas such as artificial intelligence, supercomputing and cybersecurity.
“With a sizeable budget of €7,588 million, the programme will run for the period 2021-2027, starting retroactively from 1 January” of this year, it added.
After today’s approval in Council – which was made by written procedure – the final adoption is to be made by the European Parliament, before the regulation can enter into force on the day of its publication in the EU’s official journal.
Quoted in the note, Portugal’s minister of infrastructure and housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, stresses that the Digital Europe programme “is part of the EU’s strong push to make the most of digitalisation for the benefit of its societies and economies, increase its autonomy in key technologies and bolster its competitiveness.
“It will help us build high-performing and secure state-of-the-art digital services for all citizens and businesses across the Union,” the statement quotes him as adding, on behalf of Portugal’s presidency.
The programme is to fund projects in five areas, each with its own indicative budget: high performance computing (€2.2 billion), artificial intelligence (€2.1 billion), cybersecurity (€1.7 billion), digital capabilities and interoperability (€1 billion) and advanced digital skills (€577 million).
The Council statement adds that the programme “will be complementary to a number of other programmes supporting the digital transformation, such as Horizon Europe, which focuses on research and technological development, and the digital aspects of the Connecting Europe Facility.”
It also recalls that, under the EU’s new Recovery and Resilience Facility regulation, member states’ national recovery and resilience plans must allocate at least 20% of expenditure to the digital transition in order to be approved and so enable access to post-pandemic recovery funds.