Brussels, 19 November 2004
The European Commission’s view of the challenges that a European Information Society strategy up to 2010 needs to address are set out in a Commission communication adopted today. This communication highlights the need to step up research and investment in information and communication technologies (ICT), and to promote their take-up throughout the economy. ICT should be more closely tailored to citizens’ needs and expectations, to enable them to participate more readily in socially fulfilling and culturally creative virtual communities. The challenges include social inclusion and citizenship, content and services, public services, skills and work, ICT as a key industry sector, interoperability of ICT networks and applications, trust and dependability and ICT for business processes. This communication is the starting point of a reflection process that will lead to the adoption of a new strategy during 2005.
“ICT still have huge untapped potential to enhance Europe’s economic competitiveness, social inclusiveness and cultural creativity. There are signs that the next ‘wave’ in the take-up of ICT throughout the economy will have a big beneficial impact on growth, wealth creation and welfare, and we need the right mix to ensure to ensure that Europe derives the maximum possible benefit”, said Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Olli Rehn.
This communication argues the case for wider use of ICT, in particular for bringing ICT closer to citizens’ needs and expectations. It presents some of the key policy challenges that the EU faces in the last five years of the “Lisbon” strategy. The key economic challenge is to tap the potential for competitiveness gains and growth that ICT can bring to the EU. Spreading the benefits of ICT widely also requires sustained and higher investment in research and development.
Other challenges including making explicit the very beneficial effects of ICT and – more generally - of the Information Society, and addressing fears of new technologies and concerns about a widening of the “digital divide” between those who have access to ICT and the knowledge to use them effectively and those who do not.
The issues identified as relevant for the development of a coherent and forward-looking European Information Society policy beyond 2005 are e-Inclusion and citizenship, content and services, public services, skills and work, ICT as a key industrial sector, interoperability, trust and dependability and ICT for business processes.
The Commission will consult stakeholders, for example through a public on-line consultation and dialogue with the eEurope Advisory Group (experts representing EU Member States and other stakeholders), over the coming year, and will bring forward a new policy agenda.
It invites the Member States and other stakeholders to play an active role in elaborating the new Information Society policy for the coming years and to respond to the issues identified in this communication.
The Commission Communication can be found at: