Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Information society: EU’s i2010 strategy assessed

Launched in 2005, the aims of the EU’s i2010 strategy for information and communications technologies (ICT) were:

• To boost the single market for businesses and users by eliminating regulatory obstacles and enhancing regulatory consistency in the telecoms sector and for audiovisual media services (in particular TV and video-on-demand);

• To stimulate ICT research and innovation in Europe by pooling public and private research funding and focusing it on areas where Europe is or can become a global leader, such as on LTE (long-term evolution) mobile technology, which will revolutionise wireless broadband, or ESC (electronic stability control), which helps prevent car accidents in case of sudden manoeuvres or on slippery roads;

• To ensure that all citizens benefit from Europe’s lead in ICT, in particular through first-class online public services accessible to all; safer, smarter, cleaner and energy-efficient transport and by putting the cultural heritage of the EU at our fingertips by creating the European digital library.

The Commission notes (page 1):

ICT accounts for half of the rise in EU productivity and available high-speed broadband is key to new jobs, new skills, new markets and cutting costs. It is essential to businesses, public services and to making the modern economy work.

After recapitulating some of the more spectacular developments, the Commission gets down to a slightly more nuanced discussion of achievements and continually evolving challenges with regard to the objectives.

From the perspective of consumers and citizens, the “eYou Guide to your rights online” is worth mentioning. The web pages were launched in the spring of 2009, and the information is available in ten languages.

After hailing the progress, the i2010 report ends on a more sombre note (page 9): Europe is at risk of losing its competitive edge when it comes to new, innovative developments. Therefore Europe needs a new digital agenda to meet the emerging challenges. The Commission was about to launch a public consultation on the new digital agenda.

The summary report is useful for interested citizens as well as public administrations, researchers and businesses engaged in electronic communications and information society issues:

Commission: Europe’s Digital Competitiveness Report ─ Main achievements of the i2010 strategy 2005-2009; Brussels 4.8.2009 COM(2009) 390 final (12 pages).

The Digital Competitiveness Report was accompanied by the more detailed working documents SEC(2009) 1060, SEC(2009) 1103 and SEC(2009) 1104, which are of interest to professionals:

Europe's Digital Competitiveness Report - Main achievements of the i2010 strategy 2005-2009; Brussels, 4.8.2009, SEC(2009) 1060 final (27 pages)

Europe's Digital Competitiveness Report Volume 1: i2010 — Annual Information Society Report 2009 Benchmarking i2010: Trends and main achievements; Brussels, 4.8.2009, SEC(2009) 1103 final (112 pages)

Europe's Digital Competitiveness Report Volume 2: i2010 — ICT Country Profiles; Brussels, 4.8.2009, SEC(2009) 1104 final (68 pages)

All in all, the i2010 assessment package offered a valuable basis for the discussions and the consultation aiming at a new digital agenda for the European Union.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. European affairs and dimensions, EU politics and policies: For your convenience, multilingual already aggregates 495 euroblogs, offering a variety of themes and viewpoints.