Policy Programme: Path to the Digital Decade - Questions and Answers*

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op donderdag 14 juli 2022.

What is the Digital Decade Policy Programme?

This policy programme sets out concrete objectives and targets and the means to achieve the digital transformation in Europe by 2030. The initiative embraces the accelerating trends and growing needs of digitalisation, which were also underlined by the pandemic. The Path will ensure we jointly address the gaps in Europe's digital capacities and direct common actions and large-scale investments to reap the benefits of digital transformation.

It is based on a Compass with four cardinal points: digital skills, digital infrastructure, digital business, and digital public services. Specific targets have been set for each of the areas to usher in the Digital Decade in Europe by 2030.

The Commission and the Member States will define Union-level and national trajectories towards the targets. The trajectories will help the Commission monitor progress annually and address deviations and inefficiencies together with the Member States.

A successful digital transformation will strengthen Europe's competitiveness and ability to shape universal standards, placing Europe at the forefront of global trends. More so, digital technologies are a key enabler for attaining the sustainability goals of the European Green Deal.

How will the Commission work with the European Parliament, the Council and the Member States to ensure progress towards the Digital Decade targets?

The Commission and the Member States will work closely together to reach the Digital Decade targets and objectives. The first step will be to develop EU level trajectories to assess progress towards the targets on a yearly basis. The Member States will submit strategic roadmaps outlining their national trajectories and the actions they will take to achieve them, including planned regulatory measures and investments.

This will allow work to be carried out collectively towards the common targets and objectives, while recognising different starting points among Member States.

Each year, the Commission will publish a report on the ‘State of the Digital Decade' that will be presented to the European Parliament and the Council.

In the five months following the publication of the report, the Commission and the Member States will closely cooperate to identify areas where progress is insufficient and agree on measures to ensure that the targets are achieved. At this point, Member States should adjust their national roadmaps as needed to reflect the recommended actions outlined in the report, by taking them into utmost account, and may propose additional corrective actions and/or projects such as multi-country projects.

The Decision provides a set of tools to ensure that actions taken by Member States are sufficient to allow progress towards the Digital Decade targets. These tools include a peer review, possible further actions at EU level, as well as a structured dialogue with a Member State that might continuously or significantly deviate from its national trajectories.

What will the report on the ‘State of the Digital Decade' include?

The report will serve as a yearly assessment of the digital transformation in Europe. In the report, the Commission will evaluate the progress towards the digital targets and objectives. The report will compare measured progress to the projected trajectories for each target, and provide recommendations for further actions to accelerate the attainment of the targets, including joint commitments and multi-country projects.

In particular, the report will:

  • Identify the areas where further action is needed;
  • Assess how the implementation of relevant regulatory proposals and programmes and the actions undertaken at EU and Member State level contribute to the attainment of the targets and objectives;
  • Include strategic principles and priorities in the implementation of multi-country projects and report on the progress of the multi-country projects selected for implementation.

The report will also be an opportunity to inform about the level of adherence to the Digital Principles to be set out in the upcoming Declaration.

How is the report on the ‘State of the Digital Decade' related to the European Semester?

The report on the ‘State of the Digital Decade' will feed into the European Semester. The report will include an enhanced Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), containing the data monitoring the progress towards the digital targets and an overview and analysis of the digital transformation in the EU. This information will feed into the European Semester, both in the Country Reports and the country specific recommendations. Given that the Digital Decade and the European Semester use the same underlying data but operate on different levels of detail, coherence and complementarity are ensured without creating additional burden for Member States.

What are multi-country projects?

Multi-country projects are large-scale projects facilitating the achievement of the targets for digital transformation of the Union. They channel coordinated investments between the EU, Member States and, where appropriate, other public or private stakeholders.

Through scaled-up and targeted investments in the digital sector, multi-country projects develop and deploy pan-European leading-edge capacities in strategic technological areas, thus leading to a more competitive and resilient European economy.

Do you have examples of multi-country projects?

The Commission has identified an initial list of areas where cooperation among Member States is necessary to reach the Digital Decade targets:

  • European Common Data Infrastructure and Services;
  • Endow the EU with the next generation of low power trusted processors;
  • Pan-European deployment of 5G corridors;
  • Acquiring supercomputers and quantum computers, connected with the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking;
  • Developing and deploying ultra-secure quantum and space-based communication infrastructures;
  • Deploying a network of Security Operations Centres, as part of the EU Cybersecurity Strategy;
  • Connected Public Administration;
  • European Blockchain Services Infrastructure;
  • European Digital Innovation Hubs;
  • High-tech partnerships for digital skills through the Pact for Skills;
  • Other projects, which become necessary to the achievement of the objectives of the Path to the Digital Decade over time due to emerging social, economic or environmental developments.

The annual report on the ‘State of Digital Decade' will provide the necessary information on developments and identified gaps in Europe's digital transformation, report on the progress of the multi-country projects selected for implementation and update the list if needed.

What are the benefits of multi-country projects?

Multi-country projects can:

  • Enable big projects that one single Member State could not develop on its own;
  • Pool resources to achieve economies of scale and increase impact;
  • Help reduce the digital divide between Member States;
  • Support an interconnected, interoperable and secure Digital Single Market;
  • Build ecosystems of excellence important enough to attract and retain talent;
  • Implement flagship initiatives for which cooperation among Member States is important.

What financial resources will be used to fund multi-country projects?

Multi-country projects should be able to attract and combine, in an efficient manner, various sources of Union and Member States' funding.

Depending on the needs of the specific multi-country projects, resources committed by Member States may be combined with funds from a directly managed Union programme, including contributions from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the Digital Europe Programme, the Connecting Europe Facility, the InvestEU Programme, Horizon Europe, as well as with the European Regional Development and the Cohesion funds.

Member States can contribute to multi-country projects from their regional or national budgets. The European Investment Bank (EIB) and other entities, whether public or private, may contribute to multi-country projects where appropriate. When financial resources are State aid measures, State aid rules apply.

How will multi-country projects be coordinated?

The Commission, acting as multi-country project accelerator, will coordinate the setup of multi-country projects.

As a first step, the Commission will be responsible for assessing the viability of proposed multi-country projects and publishing related calls for expression of interest addressed to all Member States.

Based on this, the Commission will explore and advise on the possibilities for implementation of the multi-country project with the participating Member States. This includes guidance regarding strategic aspects of the multi-country projects' implementation, the choice of funding sources and of the implementation mechanism.

The Commission will also support the implementation of multi-country projects by providing, as needed, technical assistance services and expertise, and facilitating the exchange of best practices.

Do State aid rules apply?

Yes. The procedures to set up and implement multi-country projects are without prejudice to the normal State aid procedures, which need to be followed as for any other measure if it entails State aid. State aid control prevents crowding out of private investment, boosts leverage of these investments, prevents waste of public resources and limits distortions of competition. State aid rules also ensure that subsidy races are avoided within the internal market.

What is a European Digital Infrastructure Consortium (EDIC)?

A European Digital Infrastructure Consortium is a new instrument proposed by the European Commission to help speed up and simplify the setup and implementation of multi-country projects.

A minimum of three Member States who want to use a European Digital Infrastructure Consortium to set up a multi-country project will submit an application to the Commission.

Following the examination of Member States' application the Commission will, if it concludes that all requirements provided for in the decision are satisfied, adopt a decision establishing the European Digital Infrastructure Consortium. Each consortium will have its own legal personality, governing body, statutes, and seat in a participating Member State.

Why invest public resources where private sector investment would work as well?

Multi-country projects using public support will be designed to target and address areas with sub-optimal investment situations, without duplicating or crowding out private financing and thus providing a clear European added value.

For More Information

About the Digital Decade Policy programme

Factsheet - Path to the Digital Decade

Factsheet - Digital Rights and Principles

Digital Decade Community on Futurium

*Updated on 14/07/2022