As a complement to its Digital Single Market strategy, the European Commission today proposed a €9.2 billion ($10.8B USD) investment aimed at increasing the EU’s international competitiveness and developing its digital capabilities. This massive investment, if approved, would be a major component of the long-term 2021-2017 budget of the European Union.
The proposed investment would fund five core areas: €2.7 billion ($3.2B USD) for building and strengthening supercomputing capacity across Europe; €2.5 billion ($2.9B USD) for proliferating AI across the European economy; €2 billion ($2.4B USD) for cybersecurity and trust efforts; €700 million ($824M USD) for digital skills training for the workforce; and finally, €1.3 billion ($1.5B USD) for digitally transforming public services and administrative activities.
With specific regard to supercomputing, the funds would support efforts to “deploy a world-class supercomputer and data infrastructure with exascale capabilities (a billion billion or 1018 calculations per second) by 2022/2023, and post exascale facilities by 2026/2027, endowing the EU with its own independent and competitive technology supply, achieving excellence in applications and widening supercomputing availability and use.”
“Having the first pan-European digital programme is a major step for strengthening Europe’s world leadership in the digital transformation,” said Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Security. “We will invest in key strategic digital capacities, such as artificial intelligence, high performance computing and cybersecurity, and, as is the case with all our digital initiatives, European citizens will stay at the heart of this programme. One of the main pillars of the programme is investment in our citizens to acquire the advanced digital skills they need for accessing and using the latest digital technologies.”
The Commission is urging speedy approval of the digital investment and the long-term budget, citing the “urgency of the situation” and the “scale of the investment required.”
“Failing to address the investment gap quickly,” they wrote, “would risk weakening the EU’s innovation capacity and industrial competitiveness.”