€7.5 billion for the digital transformation of Europe

Article written by Andrea Camilleri, Executive at Servizzi Ewropej f'Malta

Published in The Malta Independent

The green and digital transformations in Europe are spearheaded by the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States as the driving factors for the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and for building a resilient Europe thereafter.

Digitalisation is a key component for both economic recovery and resilience, having a significant impact on peoples’ lives, changing the way we live, work and also communicate with one another. As a result of its impact on our lives, digitalisation has the potential of providing solutions for many of the challenges that Europe and its citizens are facing.

When it comes to the digital transition, the EU’s approach will focus on three main pillars, based on the framework of the EU’s Digital Strategy, these being: technology that works for people; a fair and competitive digital economy; an open, democratic and sustainable society.

This three-pillar approach will condition the way in which investment and future EU policy will be developed in this area. This approach will look to cater for investment in the digital skills of Europeans, and in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). The strategy will also look to tackle environment issues associated with the digital sector, to reduce the industries’ carbon emissions, while utilising the technology to help Europe become climate neutral by 2050.

When it comes to the economy, the strategy lays out the groundwork for how start-ups and small business can utilise more digital technologies, while also being able to access finance and expand their operations. It is clear that the EU is creating a basis on which the Member States can continue to develop, strengthening both the economic and social lives of its citizens.

As a means to implement its strategy, the Commission has established the Digital Europe Programme - DIGITAL. Through this funding programme the Commission will invest €7.5 billion in financing. This funding will look to accelerate the economic recovery of the EU and also shape its digital transformation. Strategically, the programme will be based on five key capacity areas, these being:  supercomputing, AI, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills and, EU wide use of digital technologies by society and the economy.

Across these five areas, the funding will be divided somewhat equally, as a means to guarantee success across all these fields. When it comes to supercomputing, the focus will be on building up and strengthening the EU’s supercomputing and data processing capacities.

In the sector of AI, the goal will be of increasing the use of this technology both by the public and private sectors. Financing in this capacity area will also be used to establish a true European data space and support and strengthen existing AI testing and experimentation facilities. Cybersecurity will also represent a key area under the programme, with the aim being to strengthen cybersecurity coordination and data infrastructures in Member States.

This programme will look to support the design and delivery of specialised traineeships for future experts in the digital world. The focus will be to provide skill building in AI, cybersecurity and quantum computing. European Digital Innovation Hubs will also be developed, with the aim of establishing a hub in every region, as a means to help companies benefit from digital opportunities.  Opportunities for funding under this programme will start to come out in 2022 with potential applicants having the opportunity to apply with a project under these calls.

Although the European Commission has set itself some ambitious targets when it comes to the digital transformation of Europe, such a strategy has come at an opportune time. Off the back of a pandemic, increased investment in emerging economic sectors will lay the foundation to further growth of the European economy.

For information on the Digital Europe Programme or any other EU-related matter, kindly contact SEM on 2200 3300 or info.sem@gov.mt.