Brussels, 7 December 2001
e-Economy: Commission outlines steps to maximise benefits for European enterprises
A Communication on the impact of the e-Economy on European enterprises was presented by the European Commission to the EU's Council of Industry Ministers on 5th December. The Communication advocates systematically integrating the "e-dimension" into policies affecting enterprises. It also proposes to develop a policy agenda in 2002 to maximise the benefits of the e-Economy for European enterprises. In its analytical part, the Communication takes account of the considerable changes that have taken place in the e-Economy since the Lisbon Summit set the ambitious goal of making the EU the world's most "competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy" within 10 years.
Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said that "in 2002 the Commission will intensify the debate and deepen its co-operation with all e-Economy stakeholders, including Member States, industry, consumers and social partners, to develop a policy agenda for maximising the benefits of the e-Economy for European enterprises".
In March 2000, the Lisbon Summit recognised that achieving the goal of becoming the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy within ten years depends, crucially, on making the best possible use of information and communication technology (ICT). The strategy agreed in Lisbon called for a consistent EU response to the emergence of the knowledge-based economy. This response includes adapting existing policies and launching the eEurope 2002 Action Plan.
Since then, the e-Economy has undergone substantial changes, as have the behaviour and expectations of stakeholders. In particular, the plunge in ICT-related share prices and restructuring within the ICT sector has eliminated most of the over-optimism that has obscured the debate and indeed the analysis in the late 1990s.
Taking note of new challenges in a deteriorating economic climate
The Commission observes closely the impact of ICT on the economy, on enterprises and on the main economic policy instruments. The Communication provides a review of the state of play in the light of recent developments. It is a follow up to the March 2001 high level conference on the e-Economy organised at the invitation of President Prodi. Since then the economic situation has further deteriorated with the US economy now in recession, which is having a negative knock-on effect around the world.
Fostering an environment more favourable to entrepreneurship and accelerating structural reform
The Communication not only confirms that structural reform to create an environment more favourable to entrepreneurship is the right response in the deteriorating economic climate, but advocates accelerating the pace of reform. It highlights the need for action to ensure that European enterprises can make the most of the potential of the e-Economy.
The action required includes:
Meeting these challenges calls for a clear and shared vision for a long-run enterprise policy strategy. In particular, the "e-dimension" needs to be built into all EU and national policies that have an impact on European enterprises' competitiveness. Implementing policy measures will require good and timely co-ordination.
To this end, in 2002 the Commission will intensify the debate and deepen its co-operation with all relevant stakeholders, including Member States, industry, consumers and social partners, to develop an agenda for maximising the benefits of the e-Economy for all European enterprises, including small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
For further information: