The European Commission’s Directorate General for Content Networks and Technologies is launching a public consultation to gather the views of stakeholders on the priority areas for EU digital infrastructure investments and the best ways to address existing connectivity needs with Connecting Europe Facility support.
The consultation is open until 11 September 2019.
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a funding programme that supports trans-European networks and infrastructures in the sectors of transport, telecommunications and energy. CEF will enter its second generation in 2021, for the seven-year period of 2021-2027 with a budget of €3 billion.
An EU-wide, very high capacity, secure and resilient digital connectivity infrastructure is the basis for a fully functional Digital Single Market, accessible to all EU citizens, as well as for the deployment of the next generation of digital services. Given the importance of the CEF Digital funding programme to the success of the Digital Single Market, the European Commission is seeking inputs from industry, academic institutions and the public sector, in order to orientate and align its investment priorities. We also seek insights on how best to design the programme to maximise the business case for investment in digital infrastructure.
The public consultation will aid the European Commission to prepare the implementation roadmap for the CEF2 Digital investment programme and inform the preparation of the first multi annual work programme starting in 2021. Alongside a study and meetings with stakeholders, the results of this consultation will feed into the concrete funding proposals that the Commission will make.
The Connecting Europe Facility – Digital (#CEF2digital) - the EU tool to digitally connect citizens
The achievement of the digital single market relies on universal access to reliable, affordable, high and very high capacity networks. The Communication on “Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market – Towards a European Gigabit society” (the Gigabit Society Strategy) sets out strategic connectivity objectives for 2025, which Member States are working on.
With its proposed budget of 3 billion euro, CEF2 Digital will support the Member States during 2021-2027 to trigger the necessary digital infrastructure investments to reach these strategic objectives. The programme will contribute to a balance between rural and urban developments by complementing the support provided for the deployment of very high capacity networks by other programmes, in particular the European Regional Development Fund, and the InvestEU Programme.
The draft CEF2 Regulation has been subject to political agreement on its main substantive points between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. In particular, CEF2 Digital, with grants with different co-funding rates, will enable the Commission to co-fund projects of common interest (PCI) in the area of digital connectivity infrastructure “that are expected to make an important contribution to the Union's strategic connectivity objectives and/or provide the network infrastructure supporting the digital transformation of the economy and society as well as the European Digital Single Market” (Art.8), such as:
- uninterrupted coverage with 5G systems of all major transport paths, including the trans-European transport networks;
- the deployment of and access to very high-capacity networks, including 5G systems, capable of providing Gigabit connectivity in areas where socio-economic drivers are located;
- the provision of very high-quality local wireless connectivity in local communities that is free of charge and without discriminatory conditions;
- the deployment of new or significant upgrade of existing backbone networks including submarine cables, within and between Member States and between the Union and third countries;
- digital connectivity infrastructure requirements 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.
In order to ensure that the implementation of the CEF 2 Digital programme addresses the most urgent strategic needs in the Member States, the Commission seeks the views of all citizens and stakeholders regarding which investments in these different categories should be prioritised, as well as how the programme should best be designed to improve the business case for investments in digital infrastructure deployments, where relevant in synergy with other infrastructure investments.
The Commission is therefore interested in your views about possible strategic co-funding actions that should be supported with priority by CEF2 Digital in 2021-2027, in particular:
1. Cross-border 5G corridors along transport routes
2. Connectivity for 5G smart communities in Europe
3. Backbone networks of strategic importance (Terabit connectivity to HPC/ EU cloud federation / Submarine cables)
3.1 Terabit connectivity for High Performance Computing (HPC)
3.2 Energy efficient inter-connections of an EU cloud infrastructure federation
3.3 Submarine cables of strategic importance
4. Synergy actions (Transport – Energy – Digital)
4.1 Operational Digital Platforms
4.2 Cross-sector programmes
The Commission invites citizens, legal entities and public authorities to submit their answers by 11 September 2019. The Commission will assess and summarise the results in a report, which will be made publicly available on the website of the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology. The results will also be reflected in a Roadmap for the Implementation of CEF2 Digital in autumn 2019.