The Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL) is part of 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) of the European Union, a programme focused on building the strategic digital capacities of the Union (as well as Countries Associated to the programme) and on facilitating the wide deployment of digital technologies and its applications. In strategic terms, it is aligned with the Commission vision for the Digital Decade and should therefore contribute to delivering the digital targets for 2030.
With a planned overall budget of approximately 7 600 million Euro (at current prices), it will shape and support the digital transformation of Europe’s society and economy. The DIGITAL programme Regulation (EU Regulation 2021/694) was adopted on 21 April 2021 and sets the scene for the programme implementation over the duration of the MFF 2021-2027.
Programme objectives and structure
The programme will boost investments in five interrelated specific objectives (SOs), as foreseen in the Regulation:
- SO1: High Performance Computing (approximately €2 227 million Euro)
- SO2: Artificial intelligence, data and cloud (approximately €2 062 million Euro)
- SO3: Cybersecurity and trust (approximately 1 650 million Euro)
- SO4: Advanced digital skills (approximately 577 million Euro)
- SO5: Deployment, best use of digital capacity and interoperability (approximately 1 072 million Euro)
The first four SOs are focused in building capacities in the key technological areas of high performance computing, artificial intelligence, cloud and data and cybersecurity, as well as the advanced digital skills required to deploy those technologies.
SO5 will be about deploying and using those digital capacities, promoting the Digital Single Market and advancing the digital transformation in a wide range of areas, such as the modernisation of public administrations, health, judiciary, transport, mobility, energy and the environment, education, culture and media.
In order to reach all regions and to engage with companies (including start-ups and SMEs), research organisations and public administration the DIGITAL programme will support the establishment of a network of Digital Innovation Hubs. You can learn more about the national network of “Polos de Inovação Digital” here.
Synergies with other Union programmes
As a new EU programme, the DIGITAL programme will continue to deliver upon the results of previous MFF 2014-2020 programmes: Connecting Europe Facility programme – CEF (in the area of Telecom) and ISA2, for the interoperability solutions for public administrations, businesses and citizens).
To deliver upon and beyond those previous programmes, the DIGITAL Programme will be implemented in close complementarity with other Union programmes, namely, Horizon Europe, Connecting Europe Facility (CEF-2), EU4Health, InvestEU and the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
For instance, regarding synergies with Horizon Europe: the capacities and infrastructures of the DIGITAL Programme are made available to the research and innovation community, including for actions supported through Horizon Europe, such as testing, experimentation and demonstrations across all sectors and disciplines. As the development of novel digital technologies matures through Horizon Europe, those technologies will progressively be taken up and deployed by the DIGITAL Programme.
The Programme will be implemented by means of multi-annual work programmes (typically two years, but exceptionally on a one-year basis). The work programmes will cover the general objectives of the programme as well as one or more specific objectives.
SO1 will be implemented mainly through the European Partnership EuroHPC. SO3 will be mainly implemented by the European Cybersecurity Competence Network and Centre (ECCC) or by the European Commission on its behalf, during the set-up period of that Centre. Specific work programmes will be defined for those implementations.
As for the SO2, SO3 and SO5, most actions will be implemented under direct management by the European Commission (DG-CONNECT) or under indirect management by the Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA). Certain actions under SO5, for instance those actions related to the Green Deal, such as the building up of Digital Twins through the Destination Earth Initiative (DestinE), will be delivered through contribution agreements with ESA, ECMWF and EUMETSAT.
Member States will have the opportunity to influence the contents of the work programmes through the DIGITAL Programme Committee or through the governing bodies of EuroHPC and ECCC in the specific cases of SO1 and SO3 respectively.
The European Commission has the responsibility of publishing the work programmes and the respective calls. However, in the case of SO1 and SO3 those responsibilities fall on EuroHPC JU and, where applicable, on ECCC.
Depending on the types of actions defined in the work programmes, there will be calls for proposals.
For the European Digital Innovation Hubs: DIGITAL Europe – EDIH Work Programme 2021-2023
For Cybersecurity actions: Cybersecurity Work Programme 2021-2022
For all actions excluding those implemented by the other two work programmes indicated above: DIGITAL Europe Work Programme 2021-2022 (“Main Work Programme”)
For High Performance Computing actions – the work programme will be prepared by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.
Learn more about how to get funded in the European Commission website.
- 29 April 2021 – Approval and publication of Regulation 2021/694
- 1-2 June 2021 – Official launch of Digital Europe Programme under the Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council
- 21 October 2021 – Positive opinion of the Programme Committee on the first Work Programmes
- 11 November 2021 – Adoption and publication by the Commission of the first work programmes
- 17 November 2021 – Opening of the first calls in the Funding and tender opportunities portal
As of 17 November 2021, there are seven open calls:
- Cloud Data and TEF (DIGITAL-2021-CLOUD-AI-01)
- Accelerating best use of technologies (DIGITAL-2021-DEPLOY-01)
- Preparatory actions for Data Spaces (DIGITAL-2021-PREPACTS-DS-01)
- EU Secure Quantum Communication Infrastructure (DIGITAL-2021-QCI-01)
- Advanced Digital Skills (DIGITAL-2021-SKILLS-01)
- Enhancing confidence in Digital Transformation (DIGITAL-2021-TRUST-01)
- European Digital Innovation Hubs (DIGITAL-2021-EDIH-01)
The deadline for submission of proposals is 22 February 2022 (17:00 Brussels local time).