The Horizon Europe research, innovation and science programme that will operate during the period 2021-2027 has a budget of €95.5 billion. This clearly demonstrates that the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU governments fully recognize that investment in research and science will support economic growth and recovery across Europe. And they are right to hold this view.

Julio Kongyu is the Vice-President of Huawei’s European Public Affairs and Communication Office.

The Horizon Europe policy instrument is a driver of economic growth and jobs. It backs basic scientific development through the work of the European Research Council. It will help deliver new high-tech products into the marketplace via the work activities of the European Innovation Council. The public, private, educational and research sectors based in Europe and from around the world can engage in widespread research collaborations under Horizon Europe. ICT innovation and digital technologies will play a critical role in delivering upon the objectives of Horizon Europe – thus advancing the broader EU policy goals of digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy.

Cluster 4 of Pillar 2 in Horizon Europe is designed to ensure that the EU will play a global leadership role in the development of new technologies that will make the EU economy more competitive. Priority areas of funding under Horizon Europe will include manufacturing and emerging technologies, AI, advanced computing, Big Data, key digital technologies, robotics and the next generation of the internet. In line with the climate change objectives of the EU – circular industries, advanced materials and carbon clean industry initiatives will all secure strong financial support. The twin priorities of delivering both a digital and green transition for Europe has moved centre stage within the workings of Horizon Europe.

The EU institutions are in the process of setting up the rules and the governance structures that will roll out the development of 6G between 2021 and 2030. The European Commission published a regulation in February this year that will see a public-private partnership set up – known as the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) manage the 6G research development programme in Europe. The 27 EU governments – via the work of the EU Council working group on research are reviewing how best to approve or amend this new proposed EU regulation.

The EU institutions want to make sure that this new EU regulation that has given the go-ahead to set up the new Smart Network and Services Joint Undertaking will be agreed upon by the end of 2021.  At this stage, it is proposed that the governing board of this SNS JU will have 7 members – 2 from the European Commission and five from the 6G Industry Association (6GIA) and that the European Commission and 6GIA will have 50% of voting rights each on this governing board.

The EU is in a very strong position to play a leading global role in the area of 6G standard setting. Europe is home to some of the best scientists in the world. One-third of all scientific publications that are subject to peer review emanate from Europe. 20% of all global R&D and 25% of all ICT R&D is carried in Europe. The EU Observatory for ICT Standards and the European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI) is centrally involved in 5G standard-setting issues and will be key players in the process of 6G standard-setting too.

The public, private, educational and research communities around the world must all work together to set unitary global 6G standards. This will reduce business costs and maintain the integrity of global supply chains. 6G must be developed in an environmentally friendly manner – in line with the climate change policy priorities of the European Union. The need for striking and agreeing on global 6G unitary standards is of paramount importance.

The incorporation of digital innovation into how companies operate within all vertical industries is growing as each day passes. De-coupled 6G standards would only have the net effect of increasing costs for companies and for consumers alike. This is just not acceptable at a time when both Europe and the world are engaging in economic recovery plans as a direct consequence of Covid. International engagement and co-operation between the private, public, research and educational communities is vitally important if we are all to deliver a 6G that will work for all society.

Together let’s go and do it.

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