In a decisive move towards advancing its digital agenda, the European Union (EU) has earmarked a substantial €763 million for the Digital Europe Programme. The lion’s share of nearly €549 million will fortify ongoing projects and multi-country initiatives aligning with the Digital Decade targets. These targets, a roadmap for Member States, aim to accelerate digital transformation by 2030.
Originally launched in March, ongoing projects span diverse digital technologies, including supercomputers, AI, cloud, and cybersecurity. Margrethe Vestager, EU Vice President, emphasized the program’s significance, stating, “The Digital Europe Programme is key for pooling EU and national funding to achieve ambitious digital projects.”
Apart from sustaining existing initiatives, the funding will fuel new activities supporting the implementation of the AI Act and the creation of a European AI ecosystem. Emphasis will be on ethical AI development and enhancing digital skills, with a specific focus on small and medium enterprises.
However, a noteworthy aspect of the allocation is the €214 million designated for cybersecurity. While this commitment is substantial, critics argue that given the escalating threat of cyberwarfare and the trillions of dollars in annual damages, the EU’s investment appears modest. In comparison, the United States, with a significantly smaller population, allocates billions annually to combat cybercrime, surpassing $111 billion for 2023.
The European Cybersecurity Competence Centre (ECCC) will spearhead cybersecurity efforts, with National Coordination Centres facilitating member state collaboration. Despite the concerns about the adequacy of the cybersecurity budget, the EU remains confident in its strategy. The first calls for the Digital Europe Programme are set to be announced early next year, marking a pivotal step towards a digitally resilient future.