Funding European digital transitions in 2024

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The Commission adopted in mid-December the amendment to the EU-wide Digital Europe Program for 2024, assigning €762.7 million in funding for the process of the European digital transitions aimed to benefit citizens, public sectors and businesses in the member states. 

   The yearly work program for 2024 includes strategic investments that will be instrumental in achieving the goals of the European Digital Decade; among the goals of the digital-Europe program is bolstering the member states’ technological sovereignty and bringing digital solutions to the EU-wide while contributing to the objectives of the European Green Deal.
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With a planned total budget of €7.5 billion over 7 years, the Digital Europe Program will accelerate the economic recovery and shape the digital transformation of the member states’ society and economy, bringing benefits in particular to small and medium-sized businesses.
This program complements investments under other EU programs, such as the Horizon Europe, EU4Health, InvestEU, the Connecting Europe Facility, as well as investments under the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The Regulation establishing the Digital Europe Program was published in the Official Journal of the EU and entered into force in January 2021.
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2024 digital work program
Funding in the digital-2024 work program provide concrete support for the smooth implementation of Digital Decade’s multi-county projects including opportunities for European Digital Infrastructure Consortia (EDICs), strengthening efforts on AI, as well as additional actions related to key digital policies such as virtual worlds, cloud and quantum.
The Digital Decade policy program-2030 sets up an annual cooperation cycle to achieve the common objectives and targets; the governance framework is based on an annual cooperation mechanism involving the Commission and all EU member states.
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    Within the framework of the Digital Decade, multi-country projects are large-scale projects that can contribute to achieving the digital decade targets; they will allow the EU states to come together and pool resources to build digital capacities that they would not be able to develop on their own. To set-up a multi-country project where there is a new legal instrument, the European Digital Infrastructure Consortium (EDIC) which will enable swift and flexible implementation.
Following a successful call for expression of interest for EDICs during 2023, the member states submitted 38 proposals, thus demonstrating strong demand for this new instrument. The Digital Europe Program will support a selected number of the proposed consortia, with a particular focus on industry-oriented projects.
Recognizing the growing importance of artificial intelligence AI, the 2024 work program devotes one fifth of its funding to strengthening AI support: it includes actions building an “ecosystem around large language and AI models in Europe”, providing support for the implementation and compliance with the AI Act, funding the Virtual Human Twin Platform, promoting AI innovation in healthcare and continuing to fund projects like Destination Earth.

   Note. The Destination Earth (DestinE) is a flagship initiative of the European Commission to develop a highly accurate digital model of the Earth on a global scale. This model will monitor, simulate and predict the interaction between natural phenomena and human activities. It will contribute to achieving the objectives of the twin transition, green and digital as part of the European Commission’s Green Deal and Digital Strategy.
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    The 2024 program also introduces new actions in key digital policy areas; they include seed funding for a pilot demonstrating seamless integration and interoperability of Industrial IoT Edge with Telco Edge developments, the establishment of a 3D Competence Centre for the Cultural Heritage sector, and the provision of quantum-based metabolic MRI sensors for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Commissioners’ opinion
Two commissioners expressed their opinion on the issue:
= The Digital Europe Program is a key for pooling EU and national funding to achieve ambitious digital projects that no EU member state can do alone. It is crucial that Europe continues to support digital decade targets with enhanced focus on digital skills, excellence in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Executive Vice-President, Margrethe Vestager

    = The Digital Europe Program drives Europe’s leadership and sovereignty in digital technologies. It will build on the recent agreement on the EU AI Act and boost the development of a thriving European AI start-up ecosystem. It will also allow to jointly scale up the EU-wide capabilities in cloud, data and cybersecurity, including necessary digital skills.
Commissioner Thierry Breton.

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Data-sharing project: Simpl
Besides, the Commission intends to create a secure middleware platform that will support data access and interoperability among European data spaces, unleashing the power of data-driven innovation.
The consortium to develop a platform called Simpl is created to enable cloud-to-edge “federations” and support all major data initiatives. It is led by Eviden in Belgium and consists of Aruba (Italy), Capgemini Nederland (The Netherlands), Engineering International Belgium, IONOS (Germany), and COSMOTE Global Solutions (Belgium); the Commission awarded a €41 million contract to Simpl.
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    Over the next three years, the Simpl-consortium will:
= develop Simpl-Open, the open-source software that will power data spaces and other cloud-to-edge federation initiatives;
= design Simpl-Labs, an environment for data spaces to test the open-source software and assess their ability to work with Simpl; and
= design Simpl-Live, data spaces – the Public Procurement Data Space, the European eHealth Data Space, the Language Data Space, the Smart Communities Data Space, the European Open Science Cloud, and Destination Earth.




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