30 Apr 2021

Recovery plans: 20% digital spending must be the baseline

The deadline for national recovery and resilience plans is today. We urge the Commission to analyse them as quickly as possible and call on those Member States who have not yet submitted plans to do so as soon as possible.

President of DIGITALEUROPE Hilary Mine said:

“The recovery and resilience funds offer an unprecedented opportunity to reshape Europe. It is vital that we streamline and simplify the process to unlock this investment as soon as possible.

A minimum of 20% of the funds should go towards digital investments. Digital solutions should also be part of the 37% dedicated to climate spending as they will be a key driver towards cutting our emissions.

The Commission now has a vital role to play to ensure that the plans will deliver on the promise of the digital and green transitions and kick-start the digital decade. We fully support them in their task.”

Director General of DIGITALEUROPE Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl said:

“We will study the plans closely. They should link spending to broader reforms and help us reach our digital targets for 2030.

Spending on public administration is good, but the plans should be more ambitious – supporting businesses of all sizes to digitalise, accelerating our green transition, and boosting our infrastructure and connectivity. They should also keep pushing for a more united European Single Market, encouraging cross border collaboration through multi-country projects.

And finally, the process should be more transparent than it has been so far. All the plans should be published to allow for public scrutiny. It is the future jobs and prosperity of Europe that are at stake.”


Key points to look out for:

  • 20% is a baseline for digital spending, not an upper limit

We see huge opportunities for digital solutions to help cut emissions and support our climate goals. This is an excellent opportunity to accelerate the twin transition and should be on top of the 20% and not replace it. Spending on green technology research and deployment should therefore also make up a large part of the 37% of the funds allocated to the green transition.

  • Funds must be released as quickly as possible

Two months must be the absolute limit for the analysis of the plans, not a target. Businesses are suffering now, and we need to unlock the funding as soon as possible to get Europe’s economy back on track.

All Member States who have not yet submitted the plans should do so as soon as possible.

  • The process should be transparent

All national plans should be published on the European Commission website to allow for public scrutiny. Unfortunately, the process so far has been mostly conducted behind closed doors.

  • Member States should ‘think European’

We need to be coordinating our spending in priority areas to ensure maximum return on investment. Each plan should reference multi-country projects, because only together can we reach our goals for the digital decade.

  • Spending should be linked to reforms

Throwing money at a problem is not the way to solve it. Member States must show that they have backed up the investments with a clear plan for a less fragmented European market. This should align with a more agile regulatory environment that supports innovation, in line with Europe’s targets for the digital decade.

  • The digital investments should be balanced

In the draft plans we saw, the majority of digital spending was on governments themselves. Investment in digitalising public administration is of course important, but this should not overwhelm other spending directly benefitting the whole society – for example in connectivity, skills, infrastructure, green tech, and digitalising SMEs and traditional industries.

  • The funding process should be as smooth and simple as possible

Many of the largest recipients of funds have poor records of spending EU money. The Commission should support them as much as possible with streamlined and simple processes.

  • SMEs need a special focus

Supporting smaller companies to digitalise and boosting the number of innovative start-ups are central priorities to build Europe’s resilience. Member States should work closely with our national trade associations to secure a vibrant future for this important community.


Background

In October 2020 DIGITALEUROPE published its Digital Investment Plan for Europe, which puts forward 10 investment ideas that will make Europe more competitive and innovative, greener, and more resilient. Underpinning these 10 pan-European priorities are 35 project case studies from our members across the EU.

For more information, please contact:
Chris Ruff
Director for Political Outreach & Communications
Aida Khalilova
Communications Officer
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