On 25 November, the 11th LRB Meeting took place via Zoom. Opened by Philippe Gelin, Head of Sector Multilingualism at the Data Directorate of DG Connect, the event gathered 70 participants, National Anchor Points and observers from -the European Commission. Philippe Gelin introduced the Language Data Space which is foreseen in the recently launched Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL). Overall, DIGITAL will focus on building strategic digital capacities of the EU and thus facilitate the wide deployment of digital technologies in Europe. In line with this, the planned Language Data Space will support the deployment of large multimodal language models and a wide range of AI Language Technology (LT) services by collecting, creating, sharing, and reusing multimodal language data. In a dedicated Q&A Session, all participants were invited to ask questions, that Mr. Gelin answered in a concise yet detailed way. 

Thereafter, the event put a spotlight on the role language data and LT play in the national AI Strategies. Following a general overview of the situation in the EU, specific examples from France, Slovakia, and Denmark were presented by

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the respective NAPs. The session was concluded by a panel discussion, where the national experts discussed potential synergies, opportunities, and best practices for LT in AI. Most interestingly, when asked whether LT and language resources are adequately represented in their countries, most of the participants answered that the value of LT should be more prominent in national regulations. However, regarding language data, half of the participants stated that the topic was already prominent enough in the AI strategy of their country.  

In addition to an update on the latest ELRC achievements, three LT specifications were introduced by the ELRC consortium, namely a docker for text classification, a multilingualism scoring tool and the ELRC website translator. For the latter, a set of plugins was developed to make WordPress web pages multilingual within a couple of clicks, using eTranslation. It will be publicly available as an open source package in the first half of 2022. 

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At the end of the meeting and before sending the participants off to their individual meetings with the European Commission, Andrea Lösch, the ELRC project manager, nicely summarised the key outcomes by saying that “we can safely draw one conclusion: the role and importance of the National Anchor Points increase. Your support in the collection of language data, in the evaluation and development of new tools and services of the EC and your expert feedback with regard to the development of new funding opportunities proved to be invaluable in the past. Without you, we would not have progressed that fast.” She concluded by warmly acknowledging the Language Resource Board for their continuous participation and contributions andlooking very much forward to the journey that’s laying ahead of us! 
All presentations of the 11th LRB Meeting are available here.  
 

About the Digital Europe Programme 

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In November, the Digital Europe Programme, a new EU funding programme focussing on “bringing digital technology to businesses, citizens and public administrations” was launched. The European Commission has now adopted three work programmes that will receive a total of €1.98 billion in funding: 

 

 

•    DIGITAL EUROPE Work Programme 2021-2022 (Budget: €1.38 billion)
•    DIGITAL EUROPE – EDIH Work Programme 2021-2023 (Budget: €269 million)
•    DIGITAL EUROPE – Cybersecurity Work Programme 2021-22 (Budget: €329 million)

The above-mentioned work programmes were launched on 10 November, and the first calls for tenders already followed 7 days later. In addition, a fourth work programme for High-Performance Computing, which is being prepared by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, will follow. Overall, DIGITAL presents an ambitious strategy to shape Europe’s digital future and to improve its digital capacities. The main work programme focuses on artificial intelligence, cloud and data spaces, quantum communication infrastructure as well as the advancement of digital skills and the wide use of digital technologies across economy and society. Upon publication, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, highlighted that the “€2 billion investment announced today enables European companies – of all sizes and notably startups – to seize opportunities in fast-growing markets. It will also empower European citizens with the skills needed to thrive in a safe digital environment. This strengthens our technological sovereignty.” 
More information is available here.
 

Picture Source: Factsheet Digital Europe Programme (https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/library/digital-europe-program…)