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The EU’s future is digital: The Digital Europe Programme

By Alice Cazzaniga

The overarching goal of the Digital Europe Programme is to foster Europe's digital autonomy and security - making the EU a leader in innovation, reducing its dependence on foreign technology, and enabling it to shape global digital rules and standards based on its values.

The European Commission identifies two imperatives to achieve for this generation: making Europe both greener and more digital. While the Green Deal focuses on environmental sustainability, DIGITAL targets the digital transition needed to drive economic growth and competitiveness.

Digital technologies have become intertwined with daily life, enabling communication, collaboration and progress. The COVID-19 crisis highlighted Europe's heavy reliance on foreign digital systems. DIGITAL seeks to bolster Europe's technological sovereignty by fostering cutting-edge innovation within its borders.

The program intends to strengthen Europe's data processing and storage capacity, develop core technologies like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced computing, support the digital transformation of businesses and public administrations, and build digital skills and ensure an inclusive digital transition. By investing in innovation, research, infrastructure and skills development, the initiative aims to cultivate world-class European digital capabilities. The overarching goal is to create an ecosystem of technology providers, users and talents that will fuel Europe's digital transformation and future competitiveness.

Becoming more technologically self-sufficient would strengthen Europe's resilience against threats and disruption, better protect its data and intellectual property, empower citizens and businesses with the digital tools they need. These targeted investments seek to build Europe's digital technology base, research network and industrial capabilities, reinforcing its leadership in key frontier technologies and reducing dependence on imported solutions. Ultimately, the Digital Europe Programme aspires to create an innovation ecosystem that will fuel technological breakthroughs, support job creation and economic growth, and allow the EU to shape global digital governance and standards according to its values of privacy, non-discrimination and openness.

The European Commission recognizes that these ambitions cannot be achieved through a single programme alone. It is for this reason that the Digital Europe Programme was designed to align with and complement other EU initiatives that support Europe's digital progress, competitiveness and autonomy such as the Digital Single Market, Horizon Europe, European Digital Innovation Hubs and European High-Performance Computing. Through strategic funding and synergies with related programmes, the initiative hopes to build a thriving digital Europe that is socially progressive, equipped with necessary skills, secure and resilient - allowing the EU to stay independent in digital technologies. The €7.5 billion budget represents an important pillar of the EU's broader agenda for a fair and inclusive digital transformation that benefits all, favoring high performance computing, AI, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills development and establishment of Digital Innovation Hubs.

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