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DIGITAL: Security - restricted calls and protection of classified information

This infosheet on security-related aspects within the Digital Europe programme summarises relevant aspects regarding restricted participation in certain call topics and the correct handling of classified information.

Programmes Digital Europe   HPC   AI, data & cloud   Cybersecurity  

Published on | 4 months ago

Last updated on | 4 months ago

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Marie Timmermann

Participation in restricted calls

For certain actions under the Digital Europe Programme referring to Cybersecurity, High-Performance Computing and AI, Data & Cloud, the participation of legal entities controlled from a third country can be restricted for duly justified reason, according to art. 12(5) and 12(6) of the Digital Europe Regulation. This is also the case for legal entities established in the territory of an eligible country but controlled by a third country or by a third country legal entity. The specific requirements for the individual call topics can be found in the respective call documents.


For duly justified security reasons legal entities established in associated countries and legal entities that are established in the Union but are controlled from third countries can be excluded to participate in actions on Cybersecurity (Art. 12(5) Digital Europe Regulation). Calls for proposals and calls for tenders are in these cases restricted to legal entities established or deemed to be established in Member States and controlled by Member States or by Member State nationals. There are very few exceptional call topics that would allow legal entities established in associated countries and legal entities that are established in the Union but controlled from a third country to participate provided they comply with specific conditions as laid out in annex 3 of the Cybersecurity work programme.

High-Performance Computing and AI, Data & Cloud

For duly justified security reasons legal entities established in associated countries and legal entities that are established in the Union but are controlled from third countries may be eligible to participate in specific actions on High-Performance Computing and on Artificial Intelligence, Data & Cloud only if they comply with specific requirements (Art. 12(6) Digital Europe Regulation). Requirements include guarantees on the protection of the essential security interests of the Union and the Member States and the protection of classified documents information.

Protection of classified information

Projects involving EU classified information (EUCI) must undergo security scrutiny to authorise funding and may be made subject to specific security rules (detailed in a security aspects letter (SAL) which is annexed to the Grant Agreement).

These rules provide for instance that

  • projects involving information classified TRES SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET (or equivalent) can NOT be funded;
  • classified information must be marked in accordance with the applicable security instructions in the SAL;
  • information with classification levels CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL or above and RESTREINT UE/ EU RESTRICTED, may be:
    • created or accessed only on premises with facility security clearing (FSC) from the competent national security authority (NSA), in accordance with the national rules,
    • handled only in a secured area accredited by the competent NSA,
    • accessed and handled only by persons with valid personnel security clearance (PSC) and a need-to-know;
  • at the end of the grant, the classified information must either be returned or continue to be protected in accordance with the applicable rules;
  • action tasks involving EUCI may only be subcontracted with prior written approval from the granting authority and only to entities established in an EU Member State or in a non-EU country with a security of information agreement with the EU (or an administrative arrangement with the Commission);
  • disclosure of EUCI to third parties is subject to prior written approval from the granting authority.

At least one of the beneficiaries in a consortium needs to have facility security cleaning before signature of the grant agreement.

Relevant documents

Guidance: Participation in Digital Europe programme restricted calls

Guidance: Classification of information in Digital Europe projects

Templates of the ownership control declaration and the Security issues table can be found under the Reference documents on the Funding & Tenders Portal.

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