Monday, 4 January 2010

European Digital Agenda continued: EU Council presidency trio 2010 to 2011

Yesterday’s blog post EU Council presidency trio and European Digital Agenda (continued) (3 January 2010) actually found the post-i2010 information society strategy mentioned, as well as relevant building materials for its follower, the European Digital Agenda, under Telecommunication in the [Draft] 18 month programme of the Council (27 November 2009; document 16771/09).

We continue to look for positions relevant to the knowledge society and the coming European Digital Agenda in the programme of the presidency trio Spain, Belgium and Hungary.



Education and culture


Naturally, the knowledge society is linked with better jobs and sustainable growth in a greener economy, but specifically I want to mention the role of education and training as an investment into our future (page 53):


The three Presidencies will contribute to defining and strengthening the link between the new strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (E&T 2020) and the post-2010 Lisbon Strategy, while fully taking into account those aspects of education and training that are not directly linked to growth and jobs.



Culture is another area worth mentioning in this regard (page 57):


Cultural and creative industries, including SMEs, contribute significantly to growth and employment, as well as to local and regional development. The role of cultural and creative industries should therefore be addressed in the post-2010 Lisbon Strategy.




The importance of audiovisual content is fundamental in our present day world, but I would stress the need for all voices – including citizens and consumers - to be heard when digital rights and distribution of works are regulated (page 58):


The content creative online initiatives of the European Union are a solid basis for further actions aiming at strengthening the European audiovisual and on-line industry. The three Presidencies will specifically focus on the development of the audiovisual content industry and its positive effects on the whole economy. The safeguarding of the interests of right-holders and alternative methods of distribution of audiovisual works (digital distribution, e-cinema) as well as digital cultural and creative content will also be addressed.



Justice and Home Affairs


In the area of freedom, security and justice (FSJ), many of the activities under the approved Stockholm Programme and the Action Plan to be elaborated and adopted during the Spanish presidency of the EU Council touch upon the fundamental rights of EU citizens and others. All registers, proposals and actions aimed at improving border control, the fight against cross-border crime (including cybercrime), countering terrorism etc. have to be evaluated from this point of view. Several planned actions in the long justice and home affairs (JHA) passage are relevant from a knowledge society angle as well (from page 66).


[Obiter dictum: We are still waiting for the next Commission to be cleared by the European Parliament, which is indeed taking its time, but from 1 February 2010(?) there will be separate Commissioners for Home Affairs and Justice. This seems like an improvement: The dossiers are growing and complex, and separate functions within the Commission offers opportunities for clearer dialogue at the preparatory stage.]

The European Union has been a vocal promoter of human rights in its international relations, but its practices and past as well as ongoing negotiations on international agreements have been less transparent and principled. Let us hope that the following paragraph is taken to heart (page 74):



The EU should develop a proactive and consistent approach on the protection of personal data, in particular when developing a global strategy on information systems in the field of internal security.



E-Government is an important aspect of the knowledge society, so the paragraph on E-Justice merits attention (page 74):


Recognising the significance of the use of the information and communication technologies in the field of justice, the three Presidencies are determined to push forward the projects included in the E-Justice Action Plan 2009-2013 and, taking into account its open nature, may launch additional ones. An assessment of the implementation structure’s activities should take place before June 2011. Consequently, projects such as the interconnection of registers of wills and the training of legal practitioners will be launched. Work should start on the service of judicial and extrajudicial decisions in civil and commercial matters, on legal aid, on the European order for payment as well as on the small claims procedure. Furthermore, attention will also be paid to the horizontal issue of translation and interpretation.



Trade policy

The recurring theme of strengthening protection of intellectual property rights appears under Trade Policy (page 81 to 82):


Concerted actions to remove non-tariff barriers, to open up government procurement markets and to increase protection for intellectual property rights remain of particular importance.



Conclusion

We have now looked at the Summary of the Spanish work programme and the 18 month programme of the presidency trio Spain, Belgium and Hungary. My feeling is that this has put the knowledge society issues into a larger context, but without adding precision or detail.



For those readers who care for more detail about the European Digital Agenda being prepared, I suggest a number of earlier blog posts, with links to relevant documents. Here are links to a sample of posts (although the diligent searcher can find more):




Information society: EU’s i2010 strategy assessed (23 December 2009)




EU 2020 strategy and future Digital Agenda under work (24 December 2009) NB The consultation period ends on 15 January 2010.




Swedish presidency and EU Commission: preparing Digital Agenda (24 December 2009)




EU Telecommunications Council on post i2010 strategy: Towards a new digital agenda (25 December 2009) NB Links to conclusions.




EU telecoms: Reaping the digital dividend vs costs of non-Europe (26 December 2009)




EU Network and Information Security (NIS) (27 December 2009)




Citizens in the EU Information Society (European Digital Agenda) (30 December 2010)


The posts published in January 2010, including those on the programmes mentioned above, are easily found through the sidebar.




Ralf Grahn



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