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To increase Internet connectivity in Europe, open up all communications networks to competition and encourage Internet use by placing emphasis on training and consumer protection.
Commission Communication of 13 March 2001 on eEurope 2002: Impact and Priorities A communication to the Spring European Council in Stockholm, 23-24 March 2001 [COM(2001) 140 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The eEurope 2002 Action Plan is an integral part of the Lisbon strategy for making the European Union the world's most dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010.
The measures were grouped according to three key objectives to be met by the end of 2002:
- a cheaper, faster and secure Internet,
- investing in people and skills,
- stimulate the use of the Internet.
A CHEAPER, FASTER AND SECURE INTERNET
Cheaper and faster Internet access
The Action Plan notes that, despite the liberalisation of telecommunications services on 1 January 1998, there is still little competition where local calls are concerned and the market has been slow in producing new tariff models such as flat-rate or free access. The Action Plan therefore considers lower prices to be essential for a quick take-up of high-speed multimedia Internet access. To this end, eEurope 2002 recommends:
- adopting the five directives for the new framework for electronic communications, which concern the overall framework, access and interconnection, authorisation and licences, universal service and data protection;
- introducing greater competition in local access networks and unbundling the local loop. Unbundling the local loop means opening it up to free competition so as to authorise physical access from subscriber lines to new telecommunications operators and service providers;
- improving the coordination of the European frequency policy framework;
- moving towards full conversion to IPv6 - Ipv6 is a new version of the Internet protocol which is to replace Ipv4 and make it possible to exceed the limit of 4 billion addresses. All Internet should have migrated to Ipv6 in 2010.
Faster Internet for researchers and students
The Action Plan considers improvement of the use of electronic networks by Europe's scientific communities to be a priority. To this end, it proposes:
- earmarking adequate funds for the research networking aspects of the IST Programme - the IST (Information Society Technologies) programme is a thematic programme of the 5th European Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (RTD);
- establishing high-speed access to the Internet and intranets in universities;
- fostering World Wide Grid (WWG) technology, the aim of which is to facilitate collaboration between geographically dispersed teams of researchers by enabling them to share data and computing infrastructure.
Secure network and smart cards
Secure networks and access, especially using smart cards, are essential for building user confidence in electronic commerce. To this end, the Action Plan seeks to improve the overall security of online transactions inter alia by:
- supporting industry-led security certifications through coordination of efforts and mutual recognition;
- promoting privacy-enhancing technologies, including proper codes and the consolidation of practice;
- stimulating public/private cooperation on dependability of information infrastructures.
As regards the security of smart cards, the Action Plan calls on the private sector and standards organisations, in cooperation with the European Commission, to ensure the availability of a core of common specifications for smart card interoperability and security. It also advocates that cost-effective smart card solutions be devised to enable secure electronic transactions.
INVESTING IN PEOPLE AND SKILLS
Youth into the digital age
The eEurope 2002 Action Plan recognises that visible progress is being made in connecting schools to the Internet but calls for more to be done in this area, including measures to:
- connect schools to the research networks and provide schools, teachers and students with convenient access to the Internet and multimedia resources;
- ensure availability of educational services and e-learning platforms for teachers, pupils and parents;
- train teachers in the use of digital technologies;
- adapt school curricula to incorporate new ways of learning and the use of information and communication technologies.
Working in the knowledge-based economy
The Action Plan stresses that primary responsibility for ensuring the employability and adaptability of workers in the new economy, particularly by providing skills and adapting the way work is organised, lies with the Member States and the social partners. Member States and the social partners are therefore called upon to:
- give the labour force the chance to become digitally literate through life-long learning;
- increase the number of IT training places and courses;
- establish a European diploma for basic IT skills;
- set up public Internet access points in public spaces and establish tele-centres in all communities, providing access to training and e-work facilities.
Participation for all in the knowledge-based economy
One of the priorities of the eEurope 2002 Action Plan is to ensure that people have the widest possible access to information technologies. More specifically, the aim will be to boost participation in the IT field by people with disabilities, as well as by all those who fail to benefit fully from the information society. In particular, the Action Plan recommends:
- more effective coordination at European level of policies to avoid info-exclusion;
- publication of 'design for all' standards for IT products so as to improve the employability of people with special needs;
- adoption of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines for public websites.
STIMULATE THE USE OF THE INTERNET
The development of eCommerce depends on three factors: establishment of the internal market for e-commerce, boosting consumer confidence and bringing a substantial share of public procurement on line. In this context, the Action Plan proposes:
- adopting outstanding EU legislation on copyright, distance marketing of financial services, e-money, jurisdiction and VAT on certain electronic services;
- boosting consumer confidence in eCommerce by promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and the adoption of trust marks and codes of conduct;
- building more on co-regulation and self-regulation;
- encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to Go digital and improving legal certainty for SMEs offering electronic services;
- establishing a ".eu" top-level domain name.
Electronic access to public services
The Lisbon European Council conclusions called on Member States to provide generalised electronic access to all basic public services by 2003. The Action Plan proposes various measures to that end, including the development of a coordinated approach for public-sector information, the promotion of the use of open-source software in the public sector and simplified online administrative procedures for business.
In order to develop online health services, the eEurope 2002 Action Plan recommends ensuring that healthcare providers have an appropriate telematics infrastructure in place by the end of 2002 and establishing a set of quality criteria for health-related websites, as well as health technology and data assessment networks.
Digital content for global networks
The Action Plan encourages the strengthening and renewal of initiatives which provide support to the content industries in the digital age. It therefore proposes that a programme (eContent) be launched to stimulate the development and use of European digital content on global networks. It also proposes that a coordination mechanism be created for digitisation programmes across Member States.
Intelligent transport systems
In order to respond to the problems posed by congestion, safety and the shortage of new transport services, it is necessary to develop new technological solutions and to speed up their deployment. The Action Plan therefore calls upon Member States and the European institutions to:
- ensure that the single European sky is established by the end of 2002;
- adopt a deployment plan for intelligent transport systems for road transport;
- adopt a decision on the further development of the Galileo infrastructure;
- adopt a directive for a European inland shipping reporting and information system;
- adopt specifications for wireless communication for high-speed trains.
4) IMPLEMENTING MEASURES
BENCHMARKING OF PROGRESS AT NATIONAL LEVEL
Communication of 5 February 2002 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions eEurope Benchmarking Report eEurope 2002 [COM(2002) 62 final Not published in the Official Journal].
MONITORING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE eEUROPE 2002 ACTION PLAN
Communication of 11 February 2003 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions eEurope 2002 Final Report [COM(2003) 66 final Not published in the Official Journal].
The eEurope evaluation shows that the Action Plan achieved its main objectives. Generally speaking, eEurope worked well in terms of raising the level of connectivity of the public and businesses to the Internet and creating a legislative framework for the development of a knowledge-based economy.
Internet connectivity grew rapidly over the period 2000-2002. In 2002 more than 90% of schools and businesses were online and over half of all European were regular users. While the majority of businesses have moved over to high-speed access, most private users are still using low-speed temporary telephone connections. Widespread availability of broadband access is one of the main objectives of eEurope 2005.
The advent of new Internet services has opened up new opportunities for society as a whole, helped by the creation of a comprehensive legal framework for eCommerce. These opportunities will be further stimulated by the transposition and application, by the end of 2003, of the new regulatory framework for electronic communications.
The eEurope 2002 action plan's objective was that basic administrative services should be supplied online before the end of 2002. In October 2002 all the Member States were offering at least some of these services online. They now need an increasing degree of interactivity and require back-office reorganisation to fully achieve efficiencies. Similarly, substantial progress has been made with the provision of online health care.
The next stage in the development of the information society in Europe was endorsed by the Heads of State and Government in June 2002 in Seville, in the form of the eEurope 2005 action plan. The new action plan focuses on a more limited number of key targets, including the development of high-speed Internet access, the modernisation of online public services, the creation of a dynamic environment for e-business and the gradual introduction of a secure information infrastructure.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament - eEurope 2002: Impact and Priorities - a communication to the Spring European Council in Stockholm, 23-24 March 2001 [COM(2001) 140 final Not published in the Official Journal].
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament - The eEurope 2002 Update: Prepared by the European Commission for the European Council in Nice, 7 and 8 December 2000 [COM(2000) 783 final Not published in the Official Journal].
5) FOLLOW-UP WORK
Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) [Official Journal L 201 of 31 July 2002];
Council Regulation (EC) No 876/2002 of 21 May 2002 setting up the Galileo joint undertaking [Official Journal L 138 of 28 May 2002];
Regulation (EC) No 733/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 April 2002 on the implementation of the .eu top level domain [Official Journal L 113 of 30 April 2002];
Communication of 28 May 2002 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. eEurope 2005: An information society for all [COM(2002) 263 final Not published in the Official Journal];
Council Directive 2002/38/EC of 7 May 2002 amending and amending temporarily Directive 77/388/EEC as regards the value added tax arrangements applicable to radio and television broadcasting services and certain electronically supplied services [Official Journal L 128 of 15 May 2002];
Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive) [Official Journal L 108 of 24 April 2002];
Directive 2002/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and associated facilities (Access Directive) [Official Journal L 108 of 24 April 2002];
Directive 2002/20/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (Authorisation Directive) [Official Journal L 108 of 24 April 2002];
Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on universal service and users' rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive) [Official Journal L 108 of 24 April 2002];
Communication of 26 January 2001 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Creating a Safer Information Society by Improving the Security of Information Infrastructures and Combating Computer-related Crime [COM(2000) 890 final Not published in the Official Journal];
Council Decision 2001/48/EC of 22 December 2000 adopting a multiannual Community programme to stimulate the development and use of European digital content on the global networks and to promote linguistic diversity in the information society [Official Journal L 14 of 18 January 2001];
Regulation (EC) No 2887/2000 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on unbundled access to the local loop [Official Journal L 336 of 30 December 2000].