Support for the digital economy is key to boosting technological innovation and services and essential to driving productivity growth.
In line with the main goals of the EU’s Digital Agenda, the EIB is committed to supporting Europe’s growing data traffic by investing in high-speed internet, mobile networks and cloud computing. We therefore provide finance and technical expertise for projects that further these ambitions.
Almost all aspects of everyday life and business are becoming increasingly digital. That is why broadband networks, software development, cyber security and innovative digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain are priority areas for the EIB. The smart use of green digital technologies can also serve as a key enabler for climate action and environmental sustainability. They can help to better allocate resources, reduce emissions and pollution, and prevent biodiversity loss and environmental degradation.
In 2020, the EIB supported small business, startups and larger companies as well as the public sector to drive digitalisation and innovation in the EU and beyond. Our financing helped to boost new digital business models, launch 60 satellites that provide broadband internet into space and enabled 2.6 million subscriptions for 5G services.
Projects eligible for financing
We finance digital economy projects involving various aspects of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, equipment, services, applications, research and development. Examples include:
Mobile, TV broadcasting and transmission networks that enable national or international connectivity through high-capacity fibre-optic cables, satellites or submarine cables outside the EU
Data centre facilities and hosted services such as cloud computing
Manufacturing of handsets, network equipment, software, audio-visual equipment, displays (e.g., LCD) and chips (nano- and microelectronics)
ICT applications for the automotive, electricity and healthcare industries
Public services, such as e-government, e-health and e-business
Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the future of Europe
Artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are two of the most significant disruptive technologies of our time, set to have a major impact on future societies and economies. But the European Union accounts only for 7% of annual equity investments in both technologies, while the US and China together account for 80%. However, the EU excels in research and has the largest pool of digital talents.
A new report conducted by the EIB and the European Commission recommends that Europe step up its efforts to address the €10 billion investment gap that is holding back development and deployment of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in the EU.