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April 21, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 10:51am

Everything you need to know about the EU’s Digital Single Market

List: IoT, 5G, cloud, big data and cybersecurity key to place Europe at helm of global digitalisation.

By Joao Lima

Building on the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society’s vow to bring down digital barriers across the EU, the EC has unveiled a €50bn investment plan to boost digital innovation across EU member states over the next five years.

Brussels estimates that such investment in fostering a digital ecosystem in Europe could boost the economy by €110bn.

The EC said: "By 2020, public administrations and public institutions in the European Union should be
open, efficient and inclusive, providing borderless, personalised, user-friendly, end-to-end digital public services to all citizens and businesses in the EU."

CBR lists five major key points of the commission’s Digital Single Market plan.


Public-private partnerships

Digital public-private partnerships (PPP) will have the largest sum of money (€22bn) allocated to them over the next five years.

Four billion Euros will be invested in support to PPPs and focussed areas such as key platforms to support cross sector digital transformation, through the €77bn research and innovation framework programme Horizon 2020.

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A further €1 billion will be invested by member states in contribution to the Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership (ECSEL) partnership. The remaining €17 billion will come from private investment committed by industry to these PPPs.

The commission plans to focus a significant part of the PPPs and national investments on cross-sectoral and integrated digital platforms, and will support member states in aligning their national investments with the strategic industrial agendas of the PPPs.

In addition, the EC said it will launch this year a contractual PPP on cybersecurity to strengthen the EU’s cybersecurity industry.

The PPP aims to bring together industrial and public resources to develop industrial policy on cybersecurity. It also wants to boost trust amongst member states, stimulate the cybersecurity industry by aligning the demand and supply for cybersecurity products and services, and allowing the industry to elicit future requirements from end-users.



e-Government and Businesses

The EC has set out a plan to help all 28 member states to move their entire governmental services online. The e-Government Action Plan will launch 20 initiatives starting this year and through to 2017.

Such initiatives will include, for example, modernising public administrations with the use of Key Digital Enablers like building blocks such as CEF DSIs (eID, eSignature and eDelivery). The transition towards full e-procurement is expected to be concluded by 2019.

Cross-border interoperability will be enabled, allowing movement of businesses and citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

Under this last initiative, the EC said it will submit a proposal by 2017 to create a Single Digital Gateway (SDG), codenamed Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (ESSI). This will be a one-stop entry point for businesses and people to all Digital Single Market related information, assistance, advice and problem-solving services.

The SDG will also link up but not replace relevant EU and national websites, portals, assistance services and procedures in a seamless and user-friendly way, according to the commission.

The EC is also investing €8m through Horizon 2020 on its "once-only" ideal, which defends that citizens and businesses should only have to give the same information to relevant authorities once. The project will be launched in pilot mode this year and a full roll out will be assessed by 2019.

"Public administration internally shares this data, so that no additional burden falls on citizens and businesses," the body said.

The commission also wants to have in place an EU-wide business registers by 2017.



ICT Standards Boost

The EC is also targeting devices and services’ interoperability through common code language by incentivising the creation of new and more robust ICT standards.

The body has identified five priority areas where improved ICT standardisation is most urgent to create a Digital Single Market. These are: 5G, IoT, cloud computing, cybersecurity and data technologies.

In response, the commission has proposed a high-level political process to validate, monitor, and whenever necessary, adapt the list of priorities.

The EC said that it wants future connected devices, including appliances, phones, vehicles, and industrial equipment, to be able to communicate regardless of manufacturer, OS or device technology.

Through its plan, the EC wants to fight vendor lock-in and speed up standards development to ensure new products and services reach the market in pace with global competition.

The commission said that global standard setting is a strategic element of European industrial policy, spanning across sectors, for example, healthcare, transportation and smart cities.

When it comes to the IoT, the EC said: "The IoT in Europe should be based on European values, notably high standards for the protection of personal data and security.

"Operators and service providers for the IoT could develop and adopt a ‘Trusted IoT label’, aimed at consumers, giving transparent information about different levels of privacy and security, and where relevant, demonstrating compliance with the EU’s Network and Information Security Directive."



European Cloud Initiative

The EC estimates €6.7bn will be placed into creating an European cloud. This includes €2bn from the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation, and €4.7bn in additional funding from public and private sources for the European Data Infrastructure.

The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) will be launched this year and will be open to the scientific community, businesses and public services to store, share and re-use scientific data and results. In 2017, the EC plans to open up by default all scientific data produced.

The EC estimated the platform will be used by 1.7 million European researchers and 70 million professionals in science and technology virtual environments with open and seamless services for storage, management, analysis and re-use of data linked to their research, across borders and scientific disciplines.

The cloud platform will sit on top of the EU’s European Data Infrastructure that will provide the super-computing capacity, fast connectivity and high-capacity cloud solutions needed for the project.

By 2018, the EC wants to launch a flagship-type initiative to accelerate the development of quantum technology and by 2020 it set out a vision to develop and deploy a large scale European HPC, data storage and network infrastructure.



Digital Innovation Hubs

The EC is allocating €5.5bn between 2016 and 2020 into developing existing and building new national and regional Digital Innovation Hubs.

To finance the project, it said that Horizon 2020 will contribute with €500m, while €5bn will be invested by European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and member state’s regional budgets.

The hubs aim to give every industry, "large or small, high-tech or not", access to knowledge and testing facilities in the latest digital technologies.

These centres would be based in technical universities or research organisations and companies, in particular SMEs, with access to facilities for digital innovation, supply advice on potential sources of funding or finance, make available spaces for testing and experimentation, and help workers find the necessary skills and training.

Innovation hubs across the EU will be invited to bid for funding, as well as member states and regions without such facilities.

In the end, the commission has set out the goal of giving EU citizens the skills needed for jobs in the digital age.


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