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Brussels, 28 May 2010
Digital Agenda: Kroes to present Digital Agenda for Europe at 31 May EU Telecoms Council
European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes will present the Digital Agenda for Europe, the first flagship initiative under the EU2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, to EU Telecoms Ministers at the EU's Council of Transport Telecommunications and Energy Ministers in Brussels on 31st May. The Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199, MEMO/10/200) proposes ways to boost job creation, promote economic prosperity and improve the daily lives of EU citizens and businesses via the wider and smarter use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Neelie Kroes will invite Ministers to join the European Parliament and the Commission in working to implement the Digital Agenda, and the Council is due to adopt conclusions welcoming the Digital Agenda. Vice-President Kroes is also due to exchange views with Ministers on promoting an EU Code of Online Rights to boost consumer trust and the take-up of digital services and will present the European Digital Competitiveness Report (see IP/10/571) and the 15th Progress Report on the Single European Electronic Communications Market (see IP/10/602). In the margins of the Council, EU ministers are also due to agree on the seat of the new Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) (see SPEECH/10/15).
Vice-President Kroes will present the key areas of the Digital Agenda for Europe, which foresees some 100 follow-up actions, of which 31 at least would be legislative, to harness the true potential of ICTs for the benefit of Europe's citizens, businesses and the economy as a whole. She will emphasise to Ministers that Europe has the industries, the researchers and the markets but they need to join forces across all 27 Member States to make sure the Digital Agenda for Europe becomes a reality. The seven key objectives are the following:
A new Single Market to deliver the benefits of the digital era
Citizens should be able to enjoy commercial services and cultural content across borders. But EU online markets are still separated by barriers which hamper access to pan-European telecoms services, digital services and content. Today there are four times as many music downloads in the US as in the EU because of the lack of legal offers and fragmented markets. The Commission intends to open up access to legal online content by simplifying copyright clearance, management and cross-border licensing. Other actions include making electronic payments and invoicing easier and simplifying online dispute resolution.
Improve ICT standard-setting and interoperability
To allow people to create, combine and innovate we need ICT products and services to be open and interoperable.
Enhance trust and security
Europeans will not embrace technology they do not trust - they need to feel confident and safe online. A better coordinated European response to cyber-attacks and reinforced rules on personal data protection are part of the solution. Actions could also potentially oblige website operators to inform their users about security breaches affecting their personal data.
Increase Europeans' access to fast and ultra fast internet
The 2020 target is internet speeds of 30 Mbps or above for all European citizens, with half European households subscribing to connections of 100Mbps or higher. Today only 1% of Europeans have a fast fibre-based internet connection, compared to 12% of Japanese and 15% of South Koreans. Very fast internet is essential for the economy to grow strongly, to create jobs and prosperity, and to ensure citizens can access the content and services they want. The Commission will inter alia explore how to attract investment in broadband through credit enhancement mechanisms and will give guidance on how to encourage investments in fibre-based networks.
Boost cutting-edge research and innovation in ICT
Europe must invest more in R&D and ensure our best ideas reach the market. The Agenda aims to inter alia leverage private investments with European regional funding and increasing EU research funding to ensure that Europe keeps up with and even surpasses its competition. EU investment in ICT research is less than half US levels (€37 billion compared to €88 billion in 2007).
Empower all Europeans with digital skills and accessible online services
Over half of Europeans (250 million) use the internet every day, but another 30% have never used it. Everyone, young and old, irrespective of social background, is entitled to the knowledge and skills they need to be part of the digital era since commerce, public, social and health services, learning and political life is increasingly moving online.
Unleash the potential of ICT to benefit society
We need to invest in smart use of technology and the exploitation of information to seek solutions to reduce energy consumption, support ageing citizens, empower patients and improve online access for people with disabilities. One aim would be that by 2015 patients could have access to their online medical records wherever they were in the EU. The Agenda will also boost energy saving ICT technologies that use less energy than standard lighting systems.
EU Code of Online Rights
Neelie Kroes will also exchange views with Ministers on how to best promote consumers' trust on the web to stimulate the take-up of digital services such as online shopping and banking. European consumers need to trust the technology they are using in order to widely enjoy online services. Informing them about their online rights under EU law is crucial to increase their awareness and confidence in the digital environment. This is why the Commission will work on a Code of EU Online Rights informing EU citizens about their digital rights in a transparent and understandable way.
European Digital Competitiveness Report
Neelie Kroes also will present the European Digital Competitiveness Report adopted by the Commission on 17 May (see IP/10/571). Europe's digital economy is growing in strength, spreading throughout all sectors of the economy and reaching into all areas of our lives. Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) have driven half of the productivity growth in Europe over the past 15 years. Six out of ten Europeans regularly use the internet. However, the report notes that if Europe wants to fully exploit the potential benefits of the digital economy, it must step up a gear and provide faster broadband and an internet people trust, improve citizens' skills, and encourage even more ICT innovation, which is why the Commission proposed specific measures in these areas in the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199, MEMO/10/200).
Citizens and businesses pay the price for inconsistent application of EU telecoms rules
The European Commission's latest report on the Single European Electronic Communications Market (see IP/10/602) will also be presented by Vice-President Kroes. The report shows that consumers, businesses and the EU economy as a whole are denied the full economic benefits of a truly single and competitive EU-wide telecoms market because of inconsistent application of EU telecoms rules. It also indicates that most Member States' markets have become more competitive, but remain national in dimension and that the level of competitiveness varies strongly between Member States. This is why the Commission's Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199, MEMO/10/200) calls for swift and consistent enforcement of existing telecoms rules and indicates that the Commission intends to propose appropriate steps to reduce the cost of the absence of a Single Market in telecoms services.
A Digital Agenda for Europe press pack is available at: