For the first time, the European Commission has allocated funds from its next long-term budget for a Digital Europe Programme. The Commission proposes to dedicate €9.2 billion for projects to support digital transformation between 2021 and 2027.

As key elements of the digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and trust, digital skills and high-performance computing will be the largest areas to benefit from the Digital Europe investments.

Helping companies to manage the threats connected with digital risks without losing the opportunities of exploiting their potential is a key priority for FERMA. “As digital technologies take on a larger role in the way business is conducted, support to companies, notably the smaller ones, in managing the threats and opportunities posed by these developments is crucial.” said Jo Willaert President of FERMA 

FERMA has called for companies to implement a suitable risk governance structure to manage digital technologies on an enterprise-wide basis, especially as they become more sophisticated and more widely disseminated through programmes like this. 

For example, artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most promising technologies for economic growth but there are currently no clear ethical rules for the use of data generated by AI tools. In June 2018, FERMA welcomed the appointment by the Commission of a High Level Group on Artificial Intelligence to support implementation of European strategy on AI, including the development of ethical guidelines.

FERMA has called for urgent attention from the group to two priorities for European businesses. One is to address the challenge of insurability for organisations if underwriting is entirely left to AI technologies. Second is to anticipate the possible impacts of AI on corporate relationships, such as with employees and suppliers, with the ever-increasing amount of data collected across the value chain.

FERMA will continue the dialogue with regulators and AI users, in particular within the newly created open access European AI Alliance in which it will take part.

Note: Negotiations will now start on the proposed EU long-term budget with the European Council and European Parliament.