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Information technology


Although the information revolution – mobile phones, the internet, high-speed digital delivery systems – is driven by technology and market forces, the EU has played a vital supporting role, by:

  • creating an open European market
  • ensuring fair access for all companies
  • defending consumer interests
  • setting technical standards.

Boy surfing the web © Bilderbox

One of the majority – a regular internet user.

Regulating the market

The EU's regulatory role has evolved over the years, to keep pace with the evolving ICT landscape:

  • Introducing rules covering all electronic communications networks and services  
  • ensuring fair access  to basic services (phone, fax, internet, free emergency calls) at affordable prices, for all customers - including people with disabilities
  • stimulating competition by reducing the dominant position that former national telecom monopolies used to maintained for certain services, like high-speed internet access.

The rules are applied independently by the authorities in each EU country, with national regulators coordinating their policies at EU level through forums like the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). Under proposed new rules, BEREC would take over part of the regulatory function, becoming a single agency for the whole of Europe.

Driving economic growth

Information technologies are central to Europe's economic growth strategy. The EU's Digital agenda outlines policies and measures to maximise the benefit of the digital revolution for all.

To achieve this goal, the Commission works closely with national governments and relevant organisations and companies. An annual Digital Agenda Assembly brings these stakeholders together to assess progress and emerging challenges.

Maximising the use of information technologies

Although more than half of all Europeans are regular internet users, and even more use mobile phones, the EU wants to maximise the use of information technologies. This means:

  • businesses and individuals must have access to cheap, high-quality communications infrastructure and a wide range of services
  • we must all be able to learn the skills needed to live and work in the information age.

EU is acting to achieve this by:

  • ensuring operators charge fair prices for mobile phone usage abroad in the EU (roaming charges)
  • supporting internet access and the penetration of new digital services in poorer (often outlying) EU regions
  • promoting the spread of high-speed broadband for households, schools, etc.
  • supporting the expansion of e-business services for companies and online public services.

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