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Digital Agenda for Europe

The Digital Agenda presented by the European Commission forms one of the seven pillars of the Europe 2020 Strategy which sets objectives for the growth of the European Union (EU) by 2020. The Digital Agenda proposes to better exploit the potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in order to foster innovation, economic growth and progress.

ACT

Communication from the Commission of 19 May 2010 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – A Digital Agenda for Europe [COM(2010) 245 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The European Commission has proposed a Digital Agenda. Its main objective is to develop a digital single market in order to generate smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe.

What are the obstacles hindering the Digital Agenda?

  • fragmented digital markets;
  • lack of interoperability;
  • rising cybercrime and risk of low trust in networks;
  • lack of investment in networks;
  • insufficient research and innovation efforts;
  • lack of digital literacy and skills;
  • missed opportunities in addressing societal challenges.

What actions are to be taken under the Digital Agenda?

Achieving the digital single market

The Commission undertakes on the one hand to open up legal access to online content by simplifying copyright clearance and management and cross-border licensing. In order to do this, the Commission is to propose a framework Directive on collective rights management and a Directive on orphan works. It will also review the Directive on Re-Use of Public Sector Information.

In order to facilitate electronic payments and invoicing, the Commission needs to complete the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) and review the e-Signature Directive in order to offer secure e-Authentication systems.

The European online market suffers from a lack of user trust regarding the security of payments and privacy. The Commission envisages reviewing the EU data protection regulatory framework. It also intends to publish an online Code stating clearly and in an accessible manner citizens’ rights in the digital world. This Code will also concern contract law, and EU-wide online dispute resolution. The Commission will also envisage introducing an EU online trustmark to guarantee consumer protection.

Telecommunication services should be unified. Numbering of services and spectrum bands should also be harmonised.

Enhancing interoperability and standards

The EU must enhance the interoperability of devices, applications, data repositories, services and networks. In order to do this, it is essential that the Commission continue the review of its standard-setting policy. It must also promote appropriate rules for intellectual property rights.

Consolidating online trust and security

Europe must strengthen its policy to combat cybercrime, child pornography and breaches of privacy and personal data security. The Commission is to present measures on network and information security and the fight against cyber attacks.

In parallel, Member States should take measures to establish a well-functioning network at national level and carry out large-scale cyber attack simulations. National alert platforms should be adapted to the Europol cybercrime platform.

Promoting fast and ultra fast Internet access for all

Europe needs competitively priced fast and ultra fast Internet access for all. In this regard, the EU is to establish next generation access networks (NGAs). The Commission intends to use European funds (ERDF or EAFRD, in particular) in order to finance investment in broadband. The Commission will also reinforce its radio spectrum policy.

Investing in research and innovation

Europe must make up for its lack of investment in research and development in ICTs, which is still insufficient in Europe compared to its major trading partners. The Commission therefore intends to encourage private investment and to double public expenditure to develop ICTs.

Enhancing digital literacy, skills and inclusion

Although the Internet is part of daily life for many European citizens, some categories of the population are still excluded from media literacy in the digital environment. Furthermore, the EU is hampered by a shortage of ICT practitioner skills.

In order to promote employment in the ICT field, the Commission proposes to give priority to digital literacy and skills through the European Social Fund. It also wishes to develop tools to identify and recognise the skills of ICT practitioners and users. The aim is to set up a European framework specially designed for ICT professionalism.

In order to overcome unequal access to digital literacy by European citizens, Member States should promote e-accessibility in particular when applying the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

Leveraging smart use of technology for society

The European Union must exploit the potential offered by the use of ICTs in the following areas:

How can these actions be implemented?

Implementation of the actions described above will require a sustained level of commitment at both EU and Member State levels (including at regional level). This will be coordinated by a group of Commissioners and will involve Member States and the European Parliament.

Progress on implementing the Digital Agenda will be charted annually and will give rise to the publication of a scoreboard and the holding of a Digital Assembly.

Context

The 2008 financial crisis revealed certain structural weaknesses in the European economy. The Europe 2020 Strategy launched by the European Commission in 2010 constitutes one of the responses to this crisis. It sets objectives in terms of jobs, productivity and social cohesion. The Digital Agenda for Europe forms part of the Europe 2020 Strategy and is one of the seven flagship initiatives thereof.

Last updated: 25.06.2010
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