Joint press release
On 1 and 2 June 2021, the European Commission and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union will host the Digital Assembly, which this year will be dedicated to Europe’s Digital Decade. This high-level event will focus on the EU targets for 2030 for the Digital Decade and on the Digital Europe Programme, a new €7.5 billion funding programme for the deployment of European digital projects.
The event will bring together Ministers from several Member States, representatives of the European Parliament and the European Commission, as well as representatives of the private sector and the civil society. They will discuss ways to promote European leadership across the areas and the 2030 targets outlined in the Commission’s Digital Decade Communication, including on digital skills, digital transformation of businesses, high-speed connectivity and secure and sustainable digital infrastructure, as well as digitisation of public services. The discussions will also focus on how European values and rights can best be promoted and protected in the digital world.
Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, said: “EU values in a digital context are increasingly important as more of our lives happen online. So our Digital Decade should ensure that we as citizens have the same rights online as we have offline.”
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, added: “Throughout the pandemic, we have seen how central digital technologies have become in our lives. Digital will be a key pillar of our recovery effort. We have to shape together a resilient and digitally sovereign continent, with the support of the Digital Europe Programme.”
For António Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal, “Technology and rights must be the two sides of the same coin. This vision is in the European DNA and, through this initiative, "Leading the Digital Decade", the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU materializes the sharing of values, principles and rights underpinning the digital interconnection."
Digital Decade: Europe’s vision and avenues for Europe’s digital transformation by 2030
The first day of the Digital Assembly will focus on defining Europe’s path towards a successful digital transformation by 2030, based on the visions laid out in March by the Commission in its Digital Compass. Major investments will be made to reach these targets, among other programmes, through the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will present the preparations for a joint inter-institutional Declaration of digital rights and principles for the Digital Decade. The Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, will present the Lisbon Declaration, which will contribute to these preparations. The upcoming Declaration of digital rights and principles for the Digital Decade will include commitments such as
ensuring access to high-quality connectivity across Europe, promoting digital skills to all citizens, and building a fair online world without discriminations. The dedicated public consultation runs until 2 September 2021 to open a wide societal debate and gather views from citizens, non-governmental and civil society organisations, businesses, administrations and all interested parties. The contributions gathered will feed into the proposal for the inter-institutional declaration.
New digital data highway will bring Europe and Latin America closer together
The first day will also feature the launch ceremony of the EllaLink, a project co-founded by the EU through the BELLA programme. The EllaLink is an optical submarine cable linking the European and South American continents. A key step towards the EU’s goal to invest in better connectivity with its partners, it will enable the first direct, high-capacity data connection between Europe and Latin America to support research and education data exchange and processing. The EU is the largest investor in the BELLA Programme, having contributed €26.5 million to it, while the Latin American National Research and Education Networks and the Brazilian government have provided additional funding.
Digital Europe Programme: €7.5 billion to support supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced digital skills
The Digital Europe Programme will be in the spotlight on the second day of the Digital Assembly. With an overall budget of €7.5 billion, the programme aims to strengthen the EU’s digital sovereignty, while supporting the Union's twin objectives of a green transition and digital transformation. It will accelerate the economic recovery and the digital transformation of Europe, for the benefit of citizens and businesses.
It will finance European projects in four areas: supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and advanced digital skills. During the event, industry and business representatives, including those from small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and startups, as well as government bodies will have the opportunity to learn more about what the Digital Europe Programme can offer them and receive practical guidance.