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Advanced and secure network infrastructures are essential for interconnecting researchers, data, and computing resources globally, as research is becoming more and more data-intensive. A future Digital Networks Act must enable research and innovation and align with relevant RDI and data policies.

CSC believes that connectivity, cloud, HPC, quantum computing, AI and data management must be developed in convergence to allow for data to be analysed and re-used in the most appropriate environment. In Pillar I of the White Paper, data centers are missing from the described ecosystem of actors needed to develop integrated connectivity and collaborative computing infrastructures. However, centralised computing in dedicated data centers offers significant advantages, such as improved sustainability through more efficient cooling and heat reuse capabilities. More emphasis could also be put on competences and skills measures to successfully manage the transformation of the connectivity infrastructure.

CSC agrees on the importance of leveraging synergies between existing funding programmes, and recommends making use of existing IPCEIs and liaising with relevant computing and data infrastructures, such as EuroHPC JU, and the Common European Data Spaces, including EOSC.

While it is important to strengthen sustainability, industrial competitiveness and economic security, CSC believes that other measures should be prioritised over expanding the scope of the telecommunications directive. CSC further recommends that sustainability requirements for networks are brought in line with those set or planned for other parts of the digital ecosystem such as the sustainability rating scheme for data centres. The EU should consider developing a comprehensive climate and environmental EU strategy for the ICT sector, inspired by the strategy Finland adopted in 2021.

Secure submarine cable infrastructures are crucial for the EU’s resilience and CSC supports establishing a list of Cable Projects of European Interest (‘CPEIs’) to address strategic gaps and establish new connections and to improve governance and funding coordination across the EU. A best practice legal structure for public-private partnerships for CPEIs should be developed.

A prime example of strategically important new connections is outlined in the Polar Connect Vision 2030 report, highlighting the significance and potential of Arctic connectivity. Connecting Europe to East Asia via submarine cables through the Arctic Ocean will increase the capacity of the global digital infrastructure, avoid congestion on current routes, and enhance European digital sovereignty and resilience in the current geopolitical context. In addition, it will provide numerous benefits to the research and education community across Europe, boosting scientific collaboration with like-minded nations in Asia.

Read the full statement here (pdf)