The European Commission adopted today the first Work Program for the digital part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF Digital), which defines the scope and objectives of the EU-supported actions needed to improve Europe's digital connectivity infrastructures for 3 years. These actions will receive more than €1 billion in funding (2021-2023).
By fostering public and private investments, CEF Digital will contribute to connectivity projects of common EU interest and to the deployment of safe, secure and sustainable high-performance infrastructure, including Gigabit and 5G networks across the EU. Improving Europe's connectivity infrastructure will be fundamental for achieving Europe's digital transformation, as outlined in the ‘Path to the Digital Decade', and for ensuring that all EU households have gigabit connectivity, and all populated areas are covered by 5G by 2030.
The Connecting Europe Facility funding program will also strengthen connectivity networks by supporting new, or improving existing, backbone infrastructures in the EU and with third countries. This is essential for the interconnection of digital capacities, such as cloud, data, and computing, which fit into the EU's ambition to remain digitally sovereign.
CEF Digital is expected to support the following key actions:
- The deployment of 5G infrastructures in Europe, in particular 5G coverage along cross-border corridors and 5G for smart communities.
- The deployment of new or significant upgrade of existing backbone networks, including cloud federations, ultra-secure quantum communication infrastructures and submarine cables, to improve the performance of the electronic communications networks within and between Member States and between the Union and third countries.
- The implementation of digital connectivity infrastructures related to cross-border projects in the areas of transport or energy and/or supporting operational digital platforms directly associated to transport or energy infrastructures.
The first calls for the Connecting Europe Facility Digital will be launched in early January 2022. Interested stakeholders will also be able to attend an ‘info day' soon after the launch, to find out more about the priorities and main aspects of the calls, as well as the evaluation and award process.
With a planned budget of up to €2 billion until 2027, the Connecting Europe Facility - Digital will support the digital transformation and Europe's Digital Decade targets for fixed and mobile connectivity. It is part of the Connecting Europe Facility program, which supports investment in trans-European digital, transport and energy networks, worth €33.7 billion from 2021 to 2027.
The first generation of the Connecting Europe Facility 2014-2020 improved the infrastructures that connect Member States and brought free Wi-Fi to local communities through the WiFi4EU program. It also supported the deployment of very-high capacity networks in rural and semi-rural areas across Europe via the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (CEBF).