The EU’s new digital single market strategy

A digital single market would enable consumers and businesses to benefit fully from the opportunities offered by the internet and digital technologies.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – A digital single market strategy for Europe (COM(2015) 192 final of 6.5.2015)

It sets out the strategy for a digital single market, one of the European Commission’s 10 policy priorities in its agenda for jobs, growth, fairness and democratic change.

The strategy sets out 16 targeted actions based on 3 pillars.

1.Better access for consumers to digital goods and services across Europe.

Under this pillar the Commission will propose:
rules to make cross-border e-commerce easier;
a review of the Regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation to enforce consumer rules more quickly and consistently;
more efficient and affordable cross-border parcel delivery;
to end unjustified geo-blocking* thus increasing choice and access for European online consumers;
to identify potential competition concerns affecting European e-commerce markets;
a modern, more European copyright law;
a review of the Satellite and Cable Directive to assess whether its scope should be broadened to include broadcasters’ online transmissions;
reduce the administrative burden to businesses caused by different VAT regimes.

2.Creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish.

he Commission proposes:
an overhaul of EU telecoms rules;
to review the audiovisual media framework to make it fit for the 21st century;
analyse the role of online platforms such as search engines, social media etc., in the digital single market and assess how to tackle illegal content;
increase trust and security in digital services, particularly the handling of personal data. This will include a review of the e-Privacy Directive;
a partnership with industry on cybersecurity covering technologies and online network security.

3.Maximising the growth potential of the digital economy.

The Commission will:
propose a ‘free flow of data initiative’ to promote the free movement of data in the EU as well as a ‘European cloud’ initiative;
define priorities for standards and interoperability of devices, applications, data repositories, services and networks which are critical to the digital single market;
support an inclusive digital society where citizens have the right skills to seize the opportunities of the internet and boost their chances of getting a job.
The Commission will complete these actions by the end of 2016.


For more information, see digital single market on the European Commission’s website.


Geo-blocking: where online customers are either denied access to a website based on their location or are re-routed to a local store with a different price.


Commission Staff Working Document – A digital single market strategy for Europe – Analysis and evidence accompanying the document communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – A digital single market strategy for Europe (SWD(2015) 100 final of 6.5.2015)

Digital Europe programme (2021–2027)

Regulation (EU) 2021/694 establishing the Digital Europe Programme

The digital Europe programme is a European Union (EU) funding programme designed to bring digital technology to businesses, citizens and public administrations. It aims to:

improve the EU’s competitiveness in the global digital economy;
contribute to bridging the digital divide across the EU and reinforcing its strategic autonomy;
strengthen and promote Europe’s capacities in key digital technology areas through large-scale deployment.

Key Points

The programme runs from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2027, i.e. the period of the multiannual financial framework. It is backed by an indicative allocation of more than €7.5 billion at 2021 prices and is implemented mainly under direct management by the European Commission.
The regulation sets out 5 specific objectives aiming to widen Europe’s capacities in key digital technology areas in the private sector and in areas of public interest.

High-performance computing (€2,226,914,000)

The operational objectives are primarily implemented through the European high-performance computing joint undertaking, set up under Regulation (EU) 2018/1488:

easily accessible world-class exascale* supercomputing and data infrastructure for public and private users — particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), easily accessible for research, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1488;
an EU-wide high-performance computing ecosystem, covering science and industry, including hardware, software, applications, services, interconnections and digital skills;
post-exascale infrastructure, including integration with quantum computing technologies and research infrastructures for computing science and encouraging the necessary hardware and software development.

Artificial intelligence (AI) (€2,061,956,000)

Supports the following operational objectives:

core AI capacities and knowledge, including better quality data resources and exchange mechanisms, and libraries of algorithms, accessible to businesses — especially SMEs and start-ups — as well as citizens, not-for-profit organisations, research institutions, universities and public administrations;
EU testing and experimentation facilities for commercial application and production systems to better integrate technologies within value chains.

Cybersecurity and trust (€1,649,566,000)

Supports the following operational objectives:

advanced cybersecurity equipment, tools and data infrastructures, together with the EU Member States;
knowledge, capacity and skills related to cybersecurity, including best practices;
capabilities of the Member States and the private sector in support of the Cybersecurity of NIS directive (Directive (EU) 2016/1148);
resilience, risk-awareness and at least basic levels of cybersecurity;
better coordination between the civilian and defence cybersecurity spheres.

Advanced digital skills (€577,347,000)

The programme supports the development of advanced digital skills to:

increase Europe’s talent pool;
bridge the digital divide and foster greater professionalism, especially in high-performance and cloud computing, big data analytics, cybersecurity, distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain), quantum technologies, robotics and AI.

Operational objectives include high-quality short-term and long-term training and courses, on-the-job training, and work placements (as appropriate) for students and the workforce, in particular in SMEs and in the public sector.

Deployment and best use of digital capacity and interoperability (€1,072,217,000)

Supports the following objectives:

effective deployment of state-of-the-art digital technologies, such as HPC, AI and cybersecurity by actors in the public sector and in areas of public interest, such as health and care, education, judiciary, customs, transport, mobility, energy, environment, cultural and creative sectors;
deployment and use of integrated and interoperable trans-European infrastructures and agreed digital standards in the public sector;
use of solutions and frameworks including of open-source solutions by public administrations, businesses and citizens;
easy access to digital technology testing and piloting of digital technologies for the public sector and EU industry, particularly SMEs;
support uptake of advanced digital technologies, including HPC, AI, cybersecurity and blockchain, by the public sector and industry, particularly SMEs and start-ups;
ensure continuous capacity at EU level to lead digital development, observing, analysing and adapting to fast-evolving digital trends, and sharing best practices;
build a future European ecosystem for trusted data sharing and digital infrastructures.

A network of European digital innovation hubs will provide access to technological expertise for businesses — in particular SMEs — and public administrations. These hubs will bring together industry, businesses and administrations in need of new technological solutions, and companies with market-ready solutions.

The programme involves co-financing from Member States and, when needed, from the private sector. Grants under the programme may cover up to 100% of the eligible costs.

The programme is also open to the participation of the following non-EU countries through association or partial association:

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members who are members of the European Economic Area (EEA);
candidate countries and potential candidates;

European Neighbourhood Policy countries;
other non-EU countries by agreement.
Digital Europe is complementary to other programmes supporting digital transition, such as Horizon Europe, which focuses on research and technological development, and the digital aspects of the Connecting Europe Facility.


It has applied since 1 January 2021.

See also:

The Digital Europe Programme (European Commission)
High Performance Computing (European Commission)
A European approach to artificial intelligence (European Commission)
Cybersecurity in the Digital Europe programme (European Commission)
Digital skills initiatives (European Commission).
Exascale: next-generation computing systems capable of executing 1018 (10 to the power of 18) floating operations per second.


Regulation (EU) 2021/694 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2021 establishing the Digital Europe Programme and repealing Decision (EU) 2015/2240 (OJ L 166, 11.5.2021, pp. 1–34).

Regulation (EU) 2021/695 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 April 2021 establishing Horizon Europe — the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, laying down its rules for participation and dissemination, and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1290/2013 and (EU) No 1291/2013 (OJ L 170, 12.5.2021, pp. 1–68).

Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2093 of 17 December 2020 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2021 to 2027 (OJ L 433I, 22.12.2020, pp. 11–22).

Regulation (EU) 2019/881 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) and on information and communications technology cybersecurity certification and repealing Regulation (EU) No 526/2013 (Cybersecurity Act) (OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, pp. 15–69).

Council Regulation (EU) 2021/1173 of 13 July 2021 on establishing the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking and repealing Regulation (EU) 2018/1488 (OJ L 256, 19.7.2021, pp. 3–51).

Directive (EU) 2016/1148 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016 concerning measures for a high common level of security of network and information systems across the Union (OJ L 194, 19.7.2016, pp. 1–30).


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