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5G for Europe’s Digital and Green Recovery

5G telecommunication systems is one of the most critical building blocks of our digital economy and society in the digital decade.

What is 5G?

  • The fifth generation of mobile & wireless technologies
  • A response to mobile traffic doubling every two years & the growing needs of emerging applications
  • The capacity, performance level & security needed to meet future connectivity needs
  • Integrating different technologies, especially the Internet of Things 

5G means enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine type communication and ultra-reliable, low-latency communication. This will enable new applications, such as gigabit speed data transfers, smart homes, 3D video UHD screens, cloud supported work and play activities, augmented reality, industry automation, critical eHealth applications, connected and automated mobility and smart cities

5G investments to support the COVID-19 Recovery

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of resilient & high-speed communications for remote working, in our daily lives, & to maintain business operations & processes
  • The Commission & Member States have identified fibre & 5G infrastructure as a key area of investment for the Recovery & Resilience Facility (RRF), for a digital & green recovery

5G in CONNECT RRF components:

5G in CONNECT RRF components: infrastructure projects, 5G for remote areas, Accelerating 5G ecosystems, Venture capital facility for 5G infrastructures and services

5G for Europe’s Recovery

5G  and connectivity infrastructures: A flagship of the EU recovery and resilience facility

  • 5G is one of the 7 flagship areas of RRF: a significant share of its targeted €150 billion digital budget should finance 5G network infrastructures
  • RRF funds will complement Connecting Europe Facility and Digital Europe Programme strategic investments
  • Over the full recovery period, it should double the level of annual investments in network infrastructures in Europe, giving a boost to 5G network rollout
  • RRF funds will benefit from a range of fast-track measures regarding state aid authorisation

5G for verticals

  • Enable artificial intelligence in business and other aspects of our daily lives
  • Connect our communities and industries, from applications in public health, such as remote diagnosis, surgery or monitoring of patients, automated cars to wireless robots
  • Excellent potential for sustainable growth and job creation across Europe
  • Expected global added value of over €500 billion per year

5G verticals include the mobility sector, where it will enable Connected and Automated Mobility to strive towards zero accidents, as well as multi-modal connectivity. 5G verticals also includes Smart energy grids, for highly efficient power lines, fewer outages and on a smaller scale, as well as less environmental impact. It also includes factories of the future, where it will enable more streamlined internal processes and remote warehouse management. It includes eHealth with remote health monitoring and smart medication, as well as robot led remote surgeries. 5G verticals include also the Media and entertainment sectors, where they will enable virtual reality enhanced experience and support high-bandwidth applications on demand

5G Action Plan

2018: Early 5G launch in selected areas. 2020: Commercial launch of 5G services in at least one major city in all MS. 2025: 5G in all urban areas and along main transport paths.

European 5G Observatory

  • The European 5G Observatory monitors the progress of the 5G Action Plan
  • European operators are neck-and-neck with other leading world regions
  • Europe is a world leader in 5G trial activities with more than €1 billion invested
  • Investments in commercial roll-out of €60-100 billion per year need to follow

EU-27 Scoreboard (January 2021)

181 5G trials in the 27 MS. 478 future 5G-enabled cities. 36.2% 5G spectrum assigned throughout the EU-27

The Electronic Communications Code

The Electronic Communications Code sets out common EU rules and objectives for the telecoms market 

  • Harmonised principles and peer review process for coherent spectrum authorisations
  • Coordinated deadlines for spectrum availability, especially for use by 5G
  • Long duration of rights of spectrum use – 20 years of predictability 
  • EU-wide light deployment regime for small cells (Commission implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1070 of 20 July 2020)

5G Spectrum

5G Pioneer Bands: hotspot data speeds of 26 GHz, urban mobile data speeds of 3.6 GHz, reliable coverage of 700 MHz

  • A roadmap for delivering the 5G 'spectrum mix' for the Internet of Everything
  • Usability of all 5G Pioneer Bands by the end of 2020
  • Make all mobile bands '5G-ready' & consider additional bands for 5G

Connectivity Toolbox

  • The Connectivity Toolbox Recommendation targets:
    • Short-term measures to boost investment in very high-capacity broadband connectivity infrastructure, including fibre and 5G,
    • Guidance to Member States in the process of designing their proposals for a recovery and resilience plan
  • Best practices to be implemented in national roadmaps

5G Corridors

  • Vision: Pan-EU 5G Corridors for Connected and Automated Mobility
  • Private investment with public funding of cross-border & challenging areas
  • Large-scale testing using Horizon 2020 (€80 million)
  • Large-scale deployment of 5G Corridors will be supported by the new Connecting Europe Facility Digital (part of total proposed budget of €2.1 billion) as well as the Recovery and Resilience Facility
  • Blending or coordination with InvestEU & national programmes

Map of 5G Cross border Corridors for Connected and Automated Mobility

* On the road to automated mobility: An EU strategy for mobility of the future COM(2018) 283


  • 5G is a key asset for Europe to compete in the global market
  • Cybersecurity is crucial for ensuring autonomy of the EU
  • 5G infrastructure is interconnected & transnational by nature
  • Vulnerabilities & cyber incidents in one Member State can affect the EU
  • Serious consequences for critical serices in case of systemic & widespread disruptions
  • A 5G Cyber-security toolbox has been published at EU level

Examples of strategic measures and technical measures

Electromagnetic fields and 5G

  • Some citizens perceive 5G as a threat to public health, as they think that EMF exposure is higher than exposure from current 4G networks
  • Some of the expressed concerns have been classified as disinformation. An example of this is linking 5G networks with the outbreak of COVID-19
  • Exposure to EMF that is caused by wireless communications equipment including for 5G is subject to limits defined in a Council Recommendation. These limits are set according to the guidelines issued by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. More information about the guidelines can be found on ICNIRP's webpage
  • Following the scientific recommendations, the EU puts exposure for the general public at a limit which is at least 50 times lower than what international scientific evidence suggests as having any effect on health
  • These limits are not binding for EU Members States and they are responsible for setting EMF limits in their countries

The Electromagnetic spectrum from non-ionizing radiation to ionizing radiation



  • 5G Public Private Partnership (5G-PPP) launched in 2013
  • €700 million public investment 
  • Mobilising €5 billion of private investment 
  • Establishing Europe as leader in 5G technology
  • Global cooperation enabling global 5G standards
  • Building 5G ecosystems with large-scale trials

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The Road to 6G

Under preparation: a new strategic partnership under Horizon Europe for cooperation beyond 5G & towards 6G

5G targets for the digital decade: coverage of all populated areas by 2030

  • Enable the digital and green transition of the economy and society
  • Establish a human-centric Internet reflecting OUR European values
  • Build the Research and Innovation capacities for Europe’s technology sovereignty in 6G systems
  • Address connectivity extended value chains, e.g. for cloud, the Internet of Things or components and devices
  • Develop lead markets, and boost 5G deployment in key areas of public interest, like 5G corridors for connected and automated mobility
  • A first set of 6G projects has already been launched under the 5G-PPP with the Hexa-X flagship system project complemented with 8 projects investigating specific technologies

Budget over the period 2021-2027

  • EU public R&I investment of €900 million under Horizon Europe, matched by the private sector
  • Coordination of 5G Deployment programmes of around €1 billion under CEF Digital
  • Broader R&I investments in Europe expected to leverage up to €10 billion from industry

Estimated timeline

  • First half of 2022 - Launch of the first funded actions