As we know, in the months following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and European Union (EU) leaders worked on an agreement to provide the Union with instruments to repair the economic and social damage suffered during 2020 and set the stage for a more sustainable and modern Europe.
The agreements have led to the adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and the Next Generation EU plan. The Next Generation EU in particular lays the foundations for a recovery based on assets and benefits of digital technologies. Let’s take a closer look.
Next Generation EU and EU’s long-term budget, a 1.824 billion euros agreement
These are tough times for businesses across Europe. It’s hard to plan investments in the midst of a pandemic, with little certainty about the future. And that’s one of the reasons we’ve put together Next Generation EU: the €750 billion recovery plan, on top of the European and national budgets. At least 20% of Next Generation EU will fund investments in digital: and that means, roughly, €150 billion.Ursula von der Leyen – President of the European Commission
The Next Generation EU and the EU’s budget for the period 2021-2027, approved on November 10, 2020, represent the biggest economic aid package ever financed by the EU. The agreement reached is in fact worth a good 1.824,3 billion euros, of which: 750 billion euros allocated to the Next Generation EU, 1.074,3 billion euros allocated to the Multiannual financial framework 2021-2027.
More than 50 percent of the amount will support the modernization of the European Union through:
- the Horizon Europe program, to support research and innovation;
- the Just Transition Funds (JTF), to support a fair climate and digital transition;
- the “rescEU reserve,” which goes to strengthen the Union’s civil protection mechanism; and the new EU4Health program.
Horizon Europe is the future Research and Innovation (R&I) framework program of the European Union running from 2021-2027. The new program represents the continuation and evolution of Horizon 2020.
Horizon Europe aims to strengthen the EU’s science and technology sectors to address major global challenges in key areas such as health, security, pollution, and climate change.
The program is expected to create up to 100.000 new jobs in R&I between 2021 and 2027.
Just Transition Funds
The Just Transition Fund (JTF) aims to support territories that will face tough socio-economic challenges resulting from the transition to climate neutrality. The Fund will thus facilitate the implementation of the European Green Deal, which aims to make the EU climate neutral by 2050.
The Digital Europe programme aims to promote large-scale deployment of digital technologies to accelerate the digital transformation of European societies and economies. The program will have a total budget of 7.588 million euros. Adoption of the programme and launch of the first calls are planned for the first quarter of 2021.
Enhanced digital capabilities will bring real added value to EU citizens, all the more so as the global pandemic shows no sign of loosening its grip. We do not know when the COVID-19 experience will come to an end, but it is clear that digital services are becoming a key driver of our economic growth and that the role of digital technologies will become even more important. It is also clear that the digital sector will play a crucial role in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery, making the Digital Europe program an essential part of the recovery plan.Peter Altmaier – German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy
Specifically, the program will fund project development in 5 key areas:
- artificial intelligence;
- development of advanced digital skills;
- wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society.
A network of European digital innovation poles will facilitate the access to new technological competences by companies (especially SMEs) and Public Administrations.
To achieve this goal, these European digital innovation poles are called to facilitate the contacts between industries, and Public Administrations that need new technological solutions and companies able to provide market-ready solutions.
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