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EU ploughs €2 billion into digital projects

Projects will include the rollout of 5G across critical transport networks by 2030

The EU is expected to allocate an estimated €2 billion to fund digital projects over the next seven years, it has emerged.

This is part of a new deal reached by the European Parliament (EP) and Council negotiators on new funds for transport, digital, and energy projects under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for 2021-2027.

The CEF is an EU funding instrument focused on promoting growth, jobs, and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment across member states.

Under the newly-announced provisional deal, which is still under legal review, the CEF will receive an overall budget of about €30 billion to fund projects aiming to modernise various cross-border projects. This will include an estimated €10 billion to help EU countries complete missing transport links as well as €1.4 billion for fast-tracking the completion of major missing cross border railway projects which are to be selected by the Commission on a competitiveness basis.

A CEF spokesperson told IT Pro that the digital section of CEF will be allocated around €2 billion of the overall fund.

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This will include the development of “projects of common interest on safe and secure very high capacity digital networks and 5G systems, as well as the digitalisation of transport and energy networks”, and the rollout of 5G coverage across important transport axes by 2030.

If awarded, the funds will be twice the sum of the budget earmarked for trans-European networks in the telecommunications sector between the years 2014 and 2020.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Transport and Tourism Committee rapporteur and Renew Europe vice-chair, Dominique Riquet, said that “this financing tool is needed more than ever”.

“We need to develop further and faster transport projects to stimulate growth, be more competitive and strengthen cohesion across Europe. Achieving the Green Deal will not be possible if we do not upgrade our infrastructure for the digital and environmental transition. The CEF is a necessity for Europe to achieve those goals,” he added.

Prior to its adoption, the funding deal still needs to be approved by the Council’s Committee of Permanent Representatives and Parliament’s Transport and Industry committees, and then the Council and Parliament as a whole.

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