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IP/06/1635

Brussels, 27 November 2006

More interoperability needed to boost the European ICT industry's competitiveness

A strong priority for interoperability on all fronts is necessary to increase the competitiveness of the European information and communication industries. A report, adopted today by the European Commission’s Task Force on ICT competitiveness and [1] uptake, recommends a strong focus on developing digital and entrepreneurial skills, strengthening the internal market, reducing patent costs, and the promotion of lead markets through public procurement as well. The ICT Task Force is one of several Commission actions undertaken to create a more favourable EU business environment under the Growth and Jobs initiative. The Commission will follow up the ICT Task Force's recommendations in 2007 with proposals for specific actions, such as designing a long-term eSkills strategy and promoting interoperability.

Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industrial Policy, said: “The Task Force has delivered a clear picture of where effort should be concentrated to boost the competitiveness of the ICT sector, which is the backbone of innovation and growth. Giving a priority to interoperability is of the greatest importance to make the sector more viable in the long term and to be of service to the entire European business world. In particular, SMEs will profit from an enhanced uptake of ICTs."

Viviane Reding, Commissioner for the Information Society and Media, said: “A dynamic ICT sector and greater use of ICT by businesses and society at large are key to improving the overall European economy. I am glad to see the Task Force's recommendations endorse the good work already taking place to promote ICT uptake and to create a single regulatory environment for the digital economy under our i2010 initiative."

The ICT Task Force was launched on 6 June 2006 (IP/06/731). Today’s meeting concluded a five-month debate resulting in the following principal recommendations:

  • ICT uptake: As ICT investment is a strong driver of economic efficiency and productivity growth, the Task Force calls for structural reforms for a more flexible production environment, continued investment in next-generation networks and services and online public services, as well as creating a charter of consumer rights in the digital environment.
  • Growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurship: Train entrepreneurial skills, raise firms' awareness of the benefits of ICTs, and improve access to finance.
  • A single regulatory environment: Deliver a regulatory environment that facilitates convergence and an inclusive information society, foster the creation of an internal market for knowledge-intensive services, and review copyright levies.
  • Intellectual property: Given the diversity of IPR models in the ICT sector, wide consultation should take place before changing EU legislation. Also, limit criminalisation for IPR infringement to wilful counterfeiting of trademarks, copyright infringement and design piracy. Promote the adoption of the London Protocol, and reduce patent costs.
  • Innovation, investment and finance in ICT research to face globalisation: Exchange best innovation practices, stimulate research through tax credit schemes, support collaborative research via European Technology Platforms and Joint Technology Initiatives (see IP/06/1589), support the development of lead markets through public procurement, secure a level playing-field for the European semiconductor industry, create a venture capital-friendly environment, and further reform of State Aid policy.
  • Standards and interoperability: As industry is primarily responsible for technical interoperability support for Commission efforts to address legal and semantic interoperability, promote effective conformance systems, and develop procurement policies that promote interoperability (see IP/06/1403).
  • Skills and employability: As growing e-skills gaps limit innovation and ICT uptake increase investment in teachers' professional development and teacher support mechanisms, increase collaboration between industry, governments, employers and education institutions, and continue efforts in incorporating entrepreneurship into educational curricula.

These recommendations will better prioritise EU action and reinforce existing activities under i2010 (see IP/06/654), including the ICT part of the EU's framework programme for research (IP/06/1590). The soon-to-be-launched ICT policy support programme within the Competitiveness and Innovation framework Programme will also stimulate innovation and competitiveness through the wider uptake of ICTs by citizens, governments and SMEs, responsible for most for Europe's innovation.

Background

The ICT sector adds 5.3% value to EU GDP and 3.6% of EU jobs. It accounts for 25% of total EU research in business and is one of the most innovative sectors. For 10 years technological progress and investment in ICTs have accounted for half of the EU economy's productivity gains.

The October 2005 Communication on Industrial Policy specified the original intention to set up the Task Force (see IP/05/1225).

The i2010 initiative, launched in June 2005, sets the framework for ICT policies (see IP/05/643).

More information
Download the full report from http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/ict/taskforce.htm

Annex

Members of the ICT Task Force

Task Force membership balanced industry and civil society. In addition, the Commission invited other parties to take part in the debate by participating in the Task Force's working groups. A trade association contact group involving BSA (Business Software Alliance), ECTA (European Competitive Telecommunications Association), EICTA (European ICT Association), ESIA (European Semiconductor Industry Association), ETNO (European Telecommunications Network Operators Association) and the European Software Association facilitated the Task Force's work.

ICT industry

Name
Current position
Sector
Olivier Baujard
CTO of Alcatel
Communications equipment
Patrick Bertrand
CEO of Cegid
Software
Carlo Bozotti
President & CEO of STMicrolectronics
Semiconductors
Crawford Beveridge
Executive VP & Chair, EMEA, APAC & Americas, of Sun Microsystems
Software and IT equipment
Jean-Philippe Courtois
SVP of Microsoft Corporation and President of Microsoft International
Software
Chris Dedicoat
SVP of Cisco Systems
Communications equipment
Thorstein Heins
CTO of Siemens Communications
Communications equipment
Lars-Johan Jarnheimer
President and CEO of Tele2
Telecoms
Hans Ulrich Maerki
Chair of IBM EMEA
Software and IT equipment
Christian Morales
VP of Intel and General Manager of Intel EMEA
Electronics and components
Eric Newcomer
CTO of IONA Technologies
Open-source software
Wolfgang Kopf
Executive VP for Public & Regulatory Affairs, T-Mobile International, Deutsche Telekom
Telecoms
Robin Pauley
President of European Affairs, BT Group
Telecoms
Rudy Provoost
CEO of Philips Consumer Electronics
Consumer electronics
Veli Sundbäck
Executive VP and Member of the Group Executive Board, Nokia Corporation
Mobile equipment
Peter Zencke
Board Member responsible for Research & Innovation, SAP
Software

Other stakeholders

Name
Current position
Sector
Arnaldo Abruzzini
Secretary-General of EUROCHAMBRES
Business
Herman Daems
Immediate past Chairman of the European Private Equity & Venture Capital Association, EVCA
Investors
Soumitra Dutta
Dean of Executive Education and Roland Berger Professor of Business & Technology, INSEAD
Academia
Luke Georghiou
Professor of Science & Technology Policy & Management, PREST
Academia
Hans-Werner Müller
Secretary-General of the European Association of Craft, Small & Medium-Sized Enterprises, UEAPME
SMEs
Jim Murray
Director of the European Consumers' Association, BEUC
Consumers
Peter Scherrer
General Secretary of the European Metalworkers' Federation (EMF)
Trade unions
Bernadette Ségol
Regional Secretary of UNI-Europa
Trade unions


[1] Information and Communications Technologies


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