You are in:

'Spain Digital Day 2021': First review of the Digital Agenda 2025

Spain accelerates digital transformation and places itself on the European connectivity podium

Thursday 2 December 2021

During the event 'Spain Digital Day 2021', the Government presented the main advances made in the Digital Spain Agenda 2025, which is part of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, the results of which place the country among the leading European states in connectivity.

The Digital Spain Agenda 2025 is the roadmap for the country's digital transformation and has a budget of 20 billion euros for the period 2021-2023, almost 30% of the total funds of the Recovery Plan.

The First Vice-President and Minister for Economic Affairs and Transformation, Nadia Calviño, has taken stock of the results obtained in eight areas of action: connectivity, cybersecurity, 5G, digital administration, digitisation of SMEs, digital skills, artificial intelligence and the creation of an audiovisual hub. Along with the breakdown of reforms and advances, she highlighted that 8.80 billion euros will be invested over 2021-2022 for the deployment of the Digital Spain Agenda 2025-nine times more than the amount budgeted for 2019-2020-which will allow our country to take a technological leap forward.

In her speech, she highlighted how activity has intensified in the last quarter of 2021 and is reaching the cruising speed phase in the deployment of the Recovery Plan as a whole. "73% of this year's budget is authorised, almost 60% committed and we have 10.4 billion allocated."

With the aim of making progress in the eight areas of the Digital Spain Agenda, the government has published eleven Expressions of Interest throughout the year and has launched six calls for proposals with an overall budget of almost 6 billion euros. In addition, three key initiatives for Spain's digital transformation have been approved: the Draft General Law on Audiovisual Communication and the Draft General Law on Telecommunications and the Charter of Digital Rights.

These actions have had an impact on the digitalisation of the country, as stated by the Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, and the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure, Roberto Sánchez. Both presented the milestones achieved this year and highlighted the importance of public-private collaboration to promote the development of the Digital Spain Agenda 2025 through the Digital Transformation Advisory Conference, the sectoral commissions with the Autonomous Communities and other forums for dialogue with the private sector.

Main developments

In the area of digital connectivity, Spain is the country with the third best connectivity in Europe (5th position in 2020). 92% of the population and 65% of rural areas have broadband coverage, according to the European Commission's Economic and Social Index (DESI). The Universalisation of Digital Infrastructures for Cohesion (UNICO) programme, launched this year with a budget of 250 million euros-the largest in the history of broadband programmes-will allow further progress towards universal coverage.

Within the framework of this programme, 205 million euros have been allocated this year to the autonomous communities to improve the connectivity of public buildings such as hospitals and schools; boost the connection of companies or industrial estates; provide connectivity vouchers to vulnerable families and improve telecommunications installations in buildings constructed before the year 2000.

The year 2021 has been decisive for the momentum of 5G technology by making available to operators the two priority bands for its development. On the one hand, the 3.6 MHz band has been reorganised and, on the other hand, frequencies in the 700 MHz band have been put out to tender.

Eight new 5G pilot projects have also been funded, adding to the two already underway, which will explore more than 120 use cases with an aggregate budget of 40 million euros and 12 million euros in grants, financed by ERDF funds. On the other hand, 115 projects from thirteen public research institutions have been awarded grants worth 95.2 million euros to boost Spanish leadership in advanced 5G and 6G, and 26 million euros are being invested in the deployment of 5G on high-speed railways, in collaboration with ADIF.

In addition, a further step has been taken to continue promoting investment in digital infrastructures with the approval of the General Telecommunications Bill, which is now beginning its parliamentary process, and the text of the draft bill for the 5G Cybersecurity Law is being finalised so that it can also be approved.

More digital skills and greater cybersecurity

At the beginning of 2021, the National Digital Skills Plan was presented with an investment of 3.75 billion euros. The aim is that in four years 80% of the population will have basic digital skills. Currently, 57% of the population has such skills.

The measures implemented this year in this area include: the creation of the Digital Skills Hub; the Educa en Digital programme; and the distribution of 140 million euros to the communities for training citizens in digital skills. Also noteworthy is the investment of 300 million euros in Vocational Training for new digital-related training and the inauguration of the 'Classroom of the Future', the first of a network of spaces dedicated to training teachers in digital skills and STEAM.

In the area of cybersecurity, we can highlight the launch of the 017 Helpline, which handled 47,503 queries last year; the Cybercooperators Programme; and the launch of ObservaCiber. With the aim of strengthening the industry, talent and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the cybersecurity sector, initiatives such as INCIBE Emprende, Hacker Academy and an innovative public procurement programme have been launched.

Digitisation of the Administration and SMEs

During 2021, the government has driven the digital transformation of the public sector. To this end, progress has been made in measures that favour the implementation of an accessible, multi-channel, intuitive and personalised administration. The percentage of internet users actively participating in eGovernment is now 67%.

Among the advances achieved in this area, it is worth highlighting: the presentation of the Public Administration Digitalisation Plan with an investment of 2.60 billion euros; the approval of the Regulation for the electronic action and operation of the public sector; the acquisition of 400 robots for the automation of processes; the Justice 2030 Project 0 and the promotion of the smart city and territory model among local entities. The European ID, the new version of electronic IDs, was also presented, which, through a mobile application, will support identity accreditation and digital signature through mobile devices; and the Cybersecurity Operations Centre.

With regard to the digitisation of SMEs and digital entrepreneurship, the government has deployed a series of measures such as the Digital Kit programme, which will invest 3 billion euros in the digitisation of SMEs, micro-enterprises and the self-employed. The SME Digitalisation Plan has also been presented, with a budget of 4.66 billion euros, and the network of Acelerapyme Offices has been launched with 60 offices throughout the country.

In the area of digital entrepreneurship, highlights included the presentation of the Spain Entrepreneurial Nation Strategy, the Draft Bill on Start-ups, which has already passed the public hearing phase, the Digital Entrepreneurs line with 51 million for projects led by women, and the Next Tech Fund, which will mobilise up to 4 billion euros of public-private investment in scale-ups and Deep-Tech projects.

Sectoral developments: health, audiovisual sector, data economy

With regards to sectoral digitalisation projects, highlights includePERTE Salud de Vanguardia-which has a budget of 395 million euros-the creation of a smart destination platform that places our country at the forefront of tourism digitalisation, and the announcement of the distribution of 1.01 billion euros for the financing of territorial, sustainable, safe and connected mobility actions.

The audiovisual sector has been given a major boost with the approval of the Audiovisual Communication Bill, which will strengthen Spain's role as a European audiovisual hub.

Following the presentation of the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy, several projects have been launched: AI R&D missions; the MarIA project for the use of the Spanish language in AI; and the Quantum Spain project. Expressions of interest have also been launched for Spain Neurotech and Algoritmo Verdes, a call for the integration of this technology in value chains or the free course for all citizens Elements of AI.

In 2021, the 'Data Office' was created to promote a true data economy in Spain, and the Spanish Gaia-X Hub.

Finally, to ensure the development of a humanistic digital transformation, the Charter of Digital Rights, the reference framework for equalising citizens' rights in the digital and analogue worlds, was presented. In the area of digital rights, work is being carried out in technological humanism initiatives and forums, for example, through the Digital Future Society.

Public-Private Partnership

In the deployment of the digital agenda and the digital transformation of Spain, public-private partnerships have a relevant role to play. It is thus worth highlighting the different forums for governance and collaborative work that have been created, such as: Digital Transformation Advisory Council, the Sectoral Conference for Digital Transformation, the Public Administration Sectoral Conference - eGovernment Sectoral Commission, the AI Advisory Council; the Digital Rights Expert Group; the National Digital Skills Hub; the Public Private Forum Spain Audiovisual Hub Europe.

Non official translation