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The European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) Initiative

The EuroQCI initiative aims to build a secure quantum communication infrastructure that will span the whole EU, including its overseas territories.

Since June 2019, all 27 EU Member States have signed the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) Declaration, signalling their commitment to the EuroQCI initiative.

The participating countries are working  with the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) to design, develop and deploy the EuroQCI. The aim is for it to be fully operational by 2027.

The EuroQCI will safeguard sensitive data and critical infrastructures by integrating quantum-based systems into existing communication infrastructures, providing an additional security layer based on quantum physics. It will reinforce the protection of Europe’s governmental institutions, their data centres, hospitals, energy grids, and more, becoming one of the main pillars of the EU’s new Cybersecurity Strategy for the coming decades.

Developing the technologies needed to make the EuroQCI a reality will serve to boost Europe’s scientific and technological capabilities in cybersecurity and quantum technologies. It will also improve Europe’s digital sovereignty and industrial competitiveness.

The EuroQCI will include a terrestrial segment relying on fibre communications networks linking strategic sites at national and cross-border level, and a space segment based on satellites. It willlink national quantum communication networks across the EU and provide global coverage.

Towards an operational EuroQCI

Work on the EuroQCI is already underway, coordinated by the Commission in the case of the terrestrial segment, and ESA in the case of the space segment. This includes the first steps towards operational quantum key distribution (QKD) services, a highly secure form of encryption, building on the activities of the Horizon 2020 OPENQKD project.

In parallel, the participating countries are starting to design and construct national quantum communication networks. They are also starting to plan cross-border links to other networks that will operate at ground level and in space.

The EuroQCI will make use of innovative quantum communication technologies developed by the researchers of the EU-funded Quantum Technologies Flagship. The involvement of European industry partners and SMEs is also crucial to ensure that the critical components of EuroQCI are based on European technologies.

The EuroQCI initiative is expected to contribute to the creation of a truly European quantum ecosystem, building on the achievements of researchers in this domain and strengthening the EU’s technological competitiveness.

Funding for the EuroQCI is being provided by the Digital Europe programme and the Connecting Europe Facility, as well as Horizon Europe, ESA, and national funds, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

In 2021-2022, the Digital Europe programme will fund support for:

  • the development of European QKD devices and systems
  • the development and deployment of national quantum communication networks
  • a testing and certification infrastructure for QKD devices, technologies and systems that will ultimately be used in the EuroQCI.

In 2022-2023, the Connecting Europe Facility will fund support for cross-border links between national quantum communication networks, along with links between the EuroQCI’s earth and space segments.

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