The event brought together stakeholders from all over Europe and beyond (i.e., Ukraine, North Macedonia and Kosovo). The first part of the session was led by Thomas Küpper – policy officer for submarine cables and broadband at DG Connect – and began with a reference to President von der Leyen’s address in 2021, during which she highlighted the need to strengthen strategic connectivity within the European Union (EU) through Global Gateway partnerships. Investing in Digital Global Gateways will be fundamental to make sure all territories of the Union are connected, within Member States, between Member States and with non-EU countries worldwide.
The focus of the discussion then shifted to the CEF Digital programme, which was formally adopted in winter 2021 to support investments in backbone networks, including submarine cables, and 5G networks, among other central actions.
For the first Backbone Connectivity for Digital Global Gateways call, which closed on 20th of April 2022, 25 proposals were received (11 for works and 14 for studies). As the ownership control is currently ongoing, the results will be published immediately after its conclusion.
As for the second call, it is expected to open in October and to close in early 2023. Further details, once confirmed, will be available through the EU Funding and Tenders Portal.
The second part of the webinar was led by Karina Marcus, from the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA). Her presentation focused on the feedback received during the first call for proposals, as well as on the lessons learned.
Among the main challenges faced by the applicants in call 1, the following were cited:
- Difficulties in submitting annexes
- Need to better differentiate between works and studies
- Need to clarify the eligibility of participants and costs
- Difficulty in understanding funding rates
- Need to better describe the content of the action
Useful tips were also provided to maximise the number of stakeholders successfully completing the application process for call 2. These included, among other points, a clear description of the scope and objectives of the work plan, the submission of all the mandatory annexes (as per indicated in section 5 of the call document) and a clear understanding of the eligibility criteria (“Only those entities established and controlled in the EU are eligible to participate”).