Brussels, 13 March 2009
Making Europe the world leader in ICT is the goal of the new strategy proposed today by the European Commission. Today Europe represents 34% of the global information and communication technologies (ICT) market, and its value is growing by 4% per year. However, the value added produced by the EU's ICT sector amounts to only 23% of the total, because both Europe's market and research efforts are fragmented. As a result, Europe is lagging behind its global competitors in ICT research and in the production of innovative ICT-based products and services. The strategy proposed calls on Member States and industry to pool resources and work together more in ICT research and innovation. The strategy also proposes showcase ICT innovation projects to deliver modern services infrastructures in areas like healthcare and energy efficiency.
"For decades to come, ICT will underpin the competitiveness of our economy, the efficiency of our public services and our quality of life. Europe represents the largest share of the world's ICT market. Our economic performance and jobs depend on these technologies. Our task is to make sure that Europe is well-equipped to harness the potential of technologies like the internet or mobile phones. This means taking concrete steps to ensure that Europe takes pole position to shape and benefit from ICT developments," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "That’s why the Commission is proposing steps to seize the opportunities of new developments such as the Future Internet, web-based services and nanoelectronics. These are key in spurring economic upturn. If Europe wants to be ambitious and take the lead, we should double both private and public investments in ICT research by 2020."
ICT represents 12 million jobs in Europe and the ICT sector represents 6% of EU GDP. The sector is driving innovation and competitiveness in all sectors of the economy. But there is an important gap between what Europe produces and what it consumes in this knowledge-intensive field.
EU investment in strengthening its capacity to research, develop and market innovative ICT is not only smaller than its competitors but also heavily fragmented. Public and private investment in ICT research in Europe is less than half that of the US and the EU attracts five times less venture capital than the US.
The new ICT Research and Innovation Strategy put forward by the Commission today proposes to mobilise resources for three interlinked paths of action:
Today's communication forms part of the preparations for a European plan for innovation and research as called for by the European Council in December 2008. It is also part of the Commission's response to the recommendations of the Aho Panel's evaluation of ICT research and development in the EU's overall research programme (IP/08/1288, MEMO/08/430).
The proposed strategy builds on several existing initiatives and actions, in particular the i2010 ICT policy framework, the broad-based EU innovation strategy and the initiatives launched in the framework of the European Research Area related to ICT
It follows a public consultation, launched in September 2008, on a European research and innovation strategy for ICT (IP/08/1287).
The full text of the Communication can be found on:
The accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper can be found on: