On December 14, 2020, the Commission has welcomed the political agreement between the European Parliament and the EU Member States on the first EU programme that aims to accelerate the recovery and drive the digital transformation of Europe. Trilogue negotiations have now concluded, pending the final approval of the legal texts by the European Parliament and the Council.
Worth EUR 7.5 billion (in current prices), the Digital Europe Programme is a part of the next long-term EU budget that covers the 2021-2027 period. It will provide funding for projects in five crucial areas: supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills, and ensuring the wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society.
The programme is fine-tuned to fill the gap between the research of digital technologies and their deployment, and to bring the results of research to the market – for the benefit of Europe’s citizens and businesses, and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises. Investments under the Digital Europe Programme support the Union’s twin objectives of a green transition and digital transformation and strengthen the Union’s resilience and open strategic autonomy.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said: “This programme is one of the key tools to make sure digital sectors will propel the recovery. The agreement shows that we are all working together on shaping and supporting the digital transformation of Europe’s society and economy.”
European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said: “The pandemic has underlined the need to invest in our digital capacities, from supercomputers to cybersecurity. The Digital Europe Programme will help European businesses, especially smaller ones, to deploy advanced technologies, to grow and benefit from the vast opportunities of digital transformation. It will help our citizens to upgrade their digital skills. This is essential to deliver on the twin digital and green transitions, to promote our technological sovereignty and strengthen our strategic digital capacities.”
As next steps, the provisional political agreement that was reached today will be approved by the European Parliament and the Council. Following this, the Council will complete its first reading position. If the Parliament agrees to the first reading position of the Council, the act will be adopted, allowing the implementation of the programme to start in 2021 with the entry into force of the new Multi-annual Financial Framework.
The Digital Europe Programme will complement other EU programmes, such as the Horizon Europe, the EU programme for research and innovation, on which a political agreement has been reached last week, as well as the Connecting Europe Facility for digital infrastructure.
The Commission has published draft orientations for Digital Europe, which will shape the work programmes and calls for proposals for the programme’s first two years (2021-2022).
On 10 November 2020, a political agreement was reached between the European Parliament, EU Member States in the Council as well as the Commission on the next long-term EU budget and NextGenerationEU. As a next step, the legal adoption of the Multiannual financial framework package along with the ratification of the Own Resources Decision is now urgently needed.
Once adopted, the EU’s long-term budget, coupled with the NextGenerationEU initiative, which is a temporary instrument designed to drive the recovery of Europe, will be the largest stimulus package ever financed through the EU budget. A total of €1.8 trillion (in 2018 prices) will help rebuild a post-coronavirus Europe. It will be a greener, more digital and more resilient Europe.