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Brussels, 18 June 2007

Information society focus for Danuta Hübner's visit to Polish port of Gdansk

Information and Communication Technology is the theme for European Commissioner Danuta Hübner's visit to the Polish port of Gdansk, capital of the Pomorskie region, on 18 June. She will address a conference on the role of new technologies in creating jobs, as well as discussing the region's Operational Programme for 2007-2013 period with local authorities.

In remarks prepared for the conference, she said: 'Competitiveness is increasingly determined by the ability of the productive sector to integrate Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), but also by the effectiveness of public and private services available to which ICT can contribute.' She added that ICT provides small or medium enterprises in remote or rural areas with the means to innovate and adapt to a rapidly changing economic environment. ICT was a sector which had seen major changes since the opening of the telecom market and created many jobs and leading activities such as mobile telephony. 'Information Society is a major contributor to territorial and social cohesion, employment and growth,' she said, adding that regional authorities have a key role to play by setting up Information Society strategies ensuring that different measures are well coordinated and appropriate to the regional needs and constraints.

The Pomorskie region will invest heavily in ICT in its Regional Operational Programme (ROP). About 40 million EUR is envisaged, of which about 24 million EUR in broadband networks and 16 million EUR in e-services for citizens and SMEs. The percentage of households and SMEs with access to broadband Internet should increase to 75% (as % of all users) by 2013 and all local government sectors should be able to provide on-line services by 2013.

Poland is going to invest about 3.7 billion Euros directly in ICT and an additional 3.1 billion are ring fenced for R&TD related investments. The support from the Structural Funds should increase the rate of broadband connections in Poland from the currently low 3.6% (2006) to an ambitious 23% by 2013.

Notes for editors

In 2007 – 2013 will Poland will receive EUR 67.3 billion or 19.4% of the total EUR 347,4 billion allocation for regional policy. Out of it 22 billion EUR goes to Cohesion Fund, 9,7 billion EUR to ESF (European Social Fund), 34 billion EUR to ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and 1,3 billion EUR to performance reserve. Poland will receive another 13,2 billion EUR under rural development policy (EAFRD) and 734 million EUR under European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

For the 2000-2006 programming period, EU cohesion policy invested around seven billion euros directly in ICT infrastructure and services for the EU as a whole. For the current programming period (2007-13) the earmarking approach has been introduced, which ensures that the predominant share of policy resources is invested in sectors to promote jobs and growth (the so-called Lisbon agenda), including ICT.

The first available data on new programming documents from Member States for 2007-2013 indicate that compared to the previous period, there will be a substantial increase in R&D and innovation investments, in all Member States and objectives. According to latest estimation, 14 billion Euros will be invested in priorities directly linked to the information society. Solidarity, economic and social progress and reinforced cohesion form part of the Community's objectives of "reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions", as laid down in the Treaty establishing the European Communities. These funds increase the competitiveness of regions and improve the living conditions of their citizens. Most of the funding is spent through multi-annual programmes, managed jointly by the Commission services, the Member States and regional authorities. For the programming period 2007-2013, the Commission proposed a reinforced cohesion policy focussing on convergence, competitiveness and cooperation.

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