Only €2.07 billion of the €33.71 billion budget will go on digital infrastructure, despite ambitious targets.
The European Commission's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme will invest €33.71 billion in transport, energy and digital infrastructure in 2021-27.
The European Council adopted the CEF programme on 14 June and now the European Parliament has finalised the legislative procedure for the programme which has "ambitious" green and digital milestones.
The digital infrastructure part of the budget is €2.07 billion. It will be used to fund connectivity projects of "common EU interest and contribute to deploying Gigabit and 5G networks across the EU," according to the Commission.
CEF Digital's small budget is intended to:
• contribute to the deployment of and access to safe and secure very high capacity digital networks and 5G systems;
• support an increased security, resilience and capacity of the digital backbone networks in the EU;
• foster the digitalisation of transport and energy networks.
Tight budget with big ideas
Based on the new CEF Regulation adopted today, the programme will mobilise resources to promote 5G deployment along the main EU transport paths to enable services like connected and automated mobility.
It will also support best practices for 5G's early adoption by local smart communities; for instance to make health or education services, more efficient and closer to citizens.
CEF Digital is also to enable the integration of high performance computing and cloud services.
Targeting is the key?
The Commission also expects the programme will, through targeted connectivity investments, ensure digital capacities are accessible across the EU, as well as connect the EU with strategic international partners, for instance through submarine or satellite connectivity.
It will connect high performance computing centres and cloud infrastructures for secure and reliable data sharing, "boosting the EU’s competitiveness and capacity to tackle complex societal challenges".
Building and upgrading the EU’s connectivity infrastructure, including submarine cables, can contribute to connect remote areas and islands, thus providing adequate connectivity to all EU citizens. Connectivity will play a key role in revitalising rural areas with new opportunities to participate in the digital transformation.
In fact, a recent public opinion survey shows that more than 90% of surveyed Europeans believe that the attractiveness of rural areas will depend on available connectivity.
The next step is to finalise the first CEF Digital work programme and launch the corresponding calls, expected later this year.