19 April 2022

Digital solutions that put people first will open up new opportunities for businesses, encourage the development of trustworthy technology, foster an open and democratic society, enable a vibrant and sustainable economy, and achieve the Digital Transformation. Funded by NEXT Generation EU, it has the ambition to transform the EU-member states into a digital, modern, and competitive economies. The aim is to introduce innovations that enhance citizens’ welfare and support economic resilience

What is NEXT Generation EU?  

Next Generation EU (NGEU) is a temporary recovery instrument to help repair the immediate economic and social damage brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the centerpiece of NGEU with loans and grants available to support reforms and investments undertaken by EU countries.  

To access NGEU funds, each Member State is required to develop a National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), setting out a coherent package of reforms and investment for the period 2021-26. 

Ambitions for the Digital Transformation 

The Recovery and Resilience Fund is included in the NextGenerationEU framework. The aim of the 672.5 billion euro fund is to support public investments, especially in digitalization and in the quest for a greener Europe, while making national economies more resilient and better prepared for the future.  

The NGEU Recovery Program is centered around three pillars that must be considered in every Member States’ National Plan and follow a minimum percentage of total funding to be allocated. 

The Belgian National RRP will be supported by 4.5 billion euro in grants. 27% of the plan will support digital objectives

The key digital measures of the Belgian National RRP 

The challenges the Belgian federal governments deals with for the digital transformation include:   

  • Addressing a lack of digital skills 
  • Strengthening fibre and 5G readiness  
  • The digital transformation of public services 

Based on the challenges, the government developed its key digital measures

The plan supports the digital transition with investments in the digitalisation of the public administration, in skills and digital inclusion, in cyber security and in connectivity.  

It will invest 480 million euro in education, for a more inclusive and future-proof education system across communities with digital and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills of pupils and students and access to digital tools and technology.  

Furthermore, the plan will invest 585 million euro in the digital transformation of the public administration, justice system and health care system to improve access for citizens and businesses, and a set of reforms that will contribute to the deployment of 5G and the deployment of ultra-fast connectivity infrastructure, such as fibre. 

How do regions organize their projects based on the National Digital Transformation?  

The Digital Transformation of Belgium is divided by three main components, which serves as inspiration for the regional RRP’s and its digital projects.  

1.- Cyber resilience and cyber security 

The main aim is, based on the structuring investment and reform projects, to combat cyber threats through projects that strengthen the country’s resilience and strengthen its ability to deal with new cybercrime phenomena.  

This happens by investing in: 

  • Cyber-secure and resilient digital society  
  • 5G  
  • Interception and security by NTSU/CTIF  

2.- Public administration 

This component is based on investment projects and structural reforms, affecting both the business environment and justice. It aims to use digital technologies to make the actions of public administration more efficient, both in its internal processes and in its interaction with citizens and businesses: 

  • Simplification of administrative procedures (on a business and governance level) 
  • E-government: Procurement procedure  

3.- Optical-fibre technology, 5G technology and new technology 

The ambition is to improve the connectivity of the national territory by continuing the development of high speed fibre optic networks, but also developing 5G corridors that enable universal and affordable access to connectivity in all urban and rural areas. The aim is also to benefit from the development of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), by ensuring that these technologies have a positive societal impact. 

  • Introducing 5G   
  • Investing in digital technologies 
  • Coverage of white zones through the development of superfast fibre networks 
  • Development of an AI institute to tackle societal challenges with this technology 
  • Improving the internal (via wifi) and external (via fibre optic) connectivity of schools and business parks 

Digital technologies and transformations as a component are implemented as a federal competence in Belgium. This means that the federal government elaborates on the introduction of it and the viability of the corresponding projects. 

FI Group has 20 years of experience and wants to accompany you on the new NextGenerationEU path. Our experts are at your disposal to analyse how your project fits into the NextGenerationEU European recovery fund and to take the next steps together with you. 

Yvette Poumpalova

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