Wednesday, 2 June 2010

EU Council on Digital Agenda for Europe

Brussels correspondents must often feel like being stationed on the Atlantic Ocean to report about the movements of the Gulf Stream: important, but lacking drama.

The news roundup 1 June 2010 on the TTE Council conclusions about the Digital Agenda for Europe left me with the feeling that it is hard for journalists to find much to tell the public about the imperceptible moves towards action, even in areas crucial for our future prosperity.

The surprisingly many brave souls who zoom in on this blog are probably a more hardy lot than the readers of main stream media, including the online resources focused on the EU, willing to endure large doses of institutional Brussels speak and exact references to documents.

The press release from the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (TTE) Council meeting 31 May 2010 (document 10418/10; page 7) refers and links to the proposed Digital Agenda for Europe (document 9981/10) and the separate conclusions (document 10130/10).

After presenting the background, the Council pronouncements begin in the Annex (from page 3). In the original document you find references, which I leave out. As a tribute to the resilience of my readers, here are the TTE Council conclusions:



• The adoption of the Commission Communication on 19 May 2010 proposing a "Digital Agenda for Europe", the first of the seven flagships of the "Europe 2020 Strategy" which contains the actions it proposes to take at EU and national level to tackle bottlenecks and deliver on the Europe 2020 priorities, that is developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation, promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy and fostering a high-employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion;

• The European Parliament's resolution of 5 May 2010 on "a new Digital Agenda for Europe:".


• The Commission Communication of 3 March 2010 on "Europe 2020 - A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth";

• The European Council Conclusions of 25-26 March 2010;

• The Granada Ministerial Declaration of 19 April 2010 on the "European Digital Agenda";

• The Council conclusions of 18 December 2009 on "Post-i2010 Strategy - towards an open, green and competitive knowledge society".


• The importance of the Digital Agenda for Europe:

− that wider deployment and more effective use of digital technologies can provide Europeans with a better quality of life through, for example, better health care, safer transport, new media opportunities and easier access to goods and services, including public services, and cultural content, in particular across borders;

− that Europe should put the necessary resources in the development of a digital single market based on fast and ultra fast internet and interoperable applications in order to use its full potential to raise productivity and generate economic growth and attract investments, create jobs and reinforce its influence at a global level;

• That this Agenda will require a sustained level of commitment at both EU and Member State levels;

• That Europe should encourage the digital economy in order to use its enabling and cross-sectoral capability to increase productivity and competitiveness of other sectors and to take advantage of ICT to better meet the global challenges, such as the transformation to a low carbon and resource-efficient economy and the creation of more and better jobs;

• That differences exist between Member States in the development of the information society, in particular with regard to broadband networks, as indicated in "Europe's Digital Competitiveness Report 2010";

• That efficient and competitive investment in next generation broadband networks will be important for innovation, consumer choice and for the competitiveness of the European Union;

• That the Digital Agenda for Europe plays a key role within the "Europe 2020 Strategy" and should be consistent with the other components of this strategy and with the other forthcoming flagship initiatives, inter alia 'Innovation Union' and 'An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era';

• That the Digital Agenda for Europe should boost the competitiveness of the European ICT sector at the worldwide level, thereby creating growth and jobs in the EU.


• The establishment of an ambitious action agenda based upon concrete proposals notably to:

− create a fully functioning digital Single Market to the benefit of European businesses, in particular SMEs, and European consumers;

− strengthen Europe's competitive position in this important sector through reinforcing efforts on ICT Research and Development and Innovation and boosting the knowledge triangle;

− take coordinated measures on network and information security in order to increase trust and confidence in cyberspace;

− deploy effective measures to promote pro-competitive investments in broadband for all and the wide availability and take-up of faster internet;

− promote the take-up and use of the internet in order to ensure inclusion in the digital society, namely through the extensive use of equipment and digital content and tools in education and learning, by enhancing digital literacy and skills and by improving accessibility for all, especially for persons with disabilities;

− deploy ICT in order to address key societal challenges such as climate change, ageing and health care and fully exploit the potential of eGovernment, with due consideration to Member States' competences;

− enhance interoperability of IT solutions in Europe and promote a better use of standards;

− strengthen the European technological capacity in ICT, expanding the opportunities for SMEs to fully participate in the global market;

− establish a strong external dimension to the European Digital Agenda;

− encourage legal access to on-line content and facilitate electronic commerce for businesses and consumers;

− take measures to promote supply of quality on-line content to all consumers in the European Union;

− evaluate the Digital Agenda for Europe by the European Commission on a regular basis and to report to the Council and the European Parliament;

• The focusing of the Digital Agenda for Europe in its key actions in order to ensure that the economic, social and cultural potential of ICT is exploited to the maximum;

• The approach taken by the Commission to implement the "Digital Agenda for Europe" on the basis of a wide stakeholder involvement.


• To the significance of the Digital Agenda for Europe for the economic and social development in the EU for their discussion at the European Council in June 2010, which should finally launch the Europe 2020 Strategy, a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.


• To seek ways to enhance horizontal coordination between concerned institutions both at the EU and national level in order to improve the implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe.


If a fully functioning digital single market means what it implies ─ one regulatory and supervisory regime and market for telecoms, content, e-commerce and copyright ─ the European Union could really make a difference in the life of businesses, consumers and citizens.

Let us hope that, for once, the EU Council is going to over-achieve.

In general, the conclusions of the TTE Council were positive, and they did not endorse censorship measures or limitations of users’ freedoms. However, this does not mean that the dangers have disappeared; they are just brewing somewhere else.

Returning to the beginning of this blog post, with regard to media attention. As a journalist, how would you have presented the story?

Ralf Grahn