Category Archives: Information society

Information technologies, and especially the Internet and mobile telephony, have enabled the development of the Information Society. This sector represents nearly 4 % of employment in the European Union (EU). The EU intends to promote the development and dissemination of new information and communication technologies (ICT), in accordance with Articles 179 to 180 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The EU completed the liberalisation of the European telecommunications market in 1998. This framework has since been reformed twice: in 2003 and 2009.
The 2009 “Telecoms Package” aims to ensure fair competition between the telecommunications operators.

Current general legal framework
Regulatory framework. Competition.
Digital Strategy, i2010 Strategy, eEurope Action Plan, Digital Strategy Programmes
Digital Strategy. I2010 Strategy and eEurope Action Plans. Programmes.
Internet, Online activities and ICT standards
Internet and Online activities. Fight against illegal online activities. Network security and information system. Coordination and standardisation.
Data protection, copyright and related rights
Data protection. Copyright and related rights in the information society.
Radiofrequencies
Mobile communications. Radio spectrum.
Interaction of the information society with certain policies
The use of ITC for road safety. The use of ITC for electronic commerce. The use of ITC for payment systems. The use of ITC for research. The use of ITC for public health.
Enlargement
Ongoing enlargement. Enlargement of January 2007. Enlargement of May 2004.

Information Society

Information Society

Information Society Contents

  • Current general legal framework: Regulatory framework. Competition.
  • Digital Strategy, i2010 Strategy, eEurope Action Plan, Digital Strategy Programmes: Digital Strategy. I2010 Strategy and eEurope Action Plans. Programmes.
  • Internet, Online activities and ICT standards: Internet and Online activities. Fight against illegal online activities. Network security and information system. Coordination and standardisation.
  • Data protection, copyright and related rights: Data protection. Copyright and related rights in the information society.
  • Radiofrequencies: Mobile communications. Radio spectrum.
  • Interaction of the information society with certain policies: The use of ITC for road safety. The use of ITC for electronic commerce. The use of ITC for payment systems. The use of ITC for research. The use of ITC for public health.
  • Enlargement: Ongoing enlargement. Enlargement of January 2007. Enlargement of May 2004.

See also

Overviews of European Union: Information technology.
Further information: Communications Networks, Contents and Technology Directorate-General of the European Commission.

Impact of the e-Economy on European enterprises

Impact of the e-Economy on European enterprises

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Impact of the e-Economy on European enterprises

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

Impact of the e-Economy on European enterprises

This communication analyses the impact of information and communication technologies on European companies and the European market. The objective is to support the full introduction of the e-Economy in Europe.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – The impact of the e-Economy on European enterprises: economic analysis and policy implications [COM(2001) 711 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Background

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are having a profound impact on the potential for economic growth and have become one of the main sources of competitiveness and increases in incomes. As a result, they have moved to the centre of the policy debate. When in March 2000, in Lisbon, the European Union (EU) set itself the ambitious target of becoming the world’s “most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy” within ten years, it recognised that attaining this goal depended on making the best possible use of ICT. The Lisbon strategy placed greater emphasis on the knowledge-based society within existing policy processes and launched the eEurope 2002 Action Plan as a roadmap to modernise the European economy.

The emergence of the e-Economy: macro and microeconomic issues

It is generally accepted that, atmacroeconomic level, the increased use of ICT leads to productivity gains and hence improves the competitiveness of enterprises and the economy as a whole. ICT-induced productivity gains are also a source of job creation in certain sectors – whereas jobs may be destroyed in others. ICT use does away with repetitive jobs often carried out by workers with low-level skills. The overall dynamism resulting from ICT use leads to job creation in other areas to an extent that more than offsets the losses.

In this context, the matching of skills poses a major challenge for the design and conduct of the labour market. The ICT skills gap is a major risk hampering further growth in Europe. The situation is particularly sensitive in Europe due to declining demographic trends and the decreasing level of interest of young Europeans in scientific studies.

Atmicroeconomic level, the e-Economy is leading to important changes in organisational market structures. The faster pace of technological change is having a major impact on the structure and lifecycle of enterprises. Firstly, ICT reduces the economic impact of distance and the cost of access to information, thus increasing the scope for competition within markets. Secondly, ICT often tends to lower the cost of setting up small enterprises thus, potentially, providing for additional competition. Thirdly, ICT creates the opportunity for new cooperative means of product and service delivery, which can lead to improved quality and cost efficiency. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, ICT gives rise to many new products and services.

The process of creating new enterprises and of adapting or replacing traditional enterprises is indicative of the way the economy adapts to new market conditions. This process has accelerated considerably since the late 1990s. Products are increasingly becoming “extended products” which include an important service component. Internet-oriented enterprises are starting to acquire the characteristics of traditional enterprises, such as warehouses and chains of shops. Conversely, traditional retailers are starting to move part of their activities on-line, adding new distribution channels and new sourcing strategies.

The impact of ICT varies, however, from sector to sector. Information-rich sectors (digital goods, information services, financial and business services, etc.) witness the emergence of new business models and increased market competition. In industries where entry barriers are higher, such as construction and heavy engineering, the impact is likely to be more gradual. Digital interactions between administrations and business are key components of the e-Economy. By offering online access to public services, administrations can add concrete, direct incentives for enterprises to go digital themselves.

One characteristic of the e-Economy is the emergence of new business models. A substantial number of these have failed, along with many “dotcoms”. Others however, have proved to be viable, notably in the business-to-business (B2B) area. Entering the e-Economy at a more mature stage may constitute an opportunity rather than a disadvantage for EU enterprises which have learnt from the mistakes of pioneers. Enterprises can now use tried and tested technologies, as well as viable business models – more specifically B2C (business-to-consumer) whose potential has still to be tapped.

E-Economy enterprises increasingly need to define and manage the risks associated with extended and dynamic enterprise configuration – not just the risks associated with the information infrastructure but also, and especially, those relating to access to adequate financial resources. Although the situation is improving, the EU venture capital market remains only a fraction of that of the US, where pension funds play a major role. Early stage investments in 2000 were five times higher in the US than in Europe. The financial environment in Europe is still insufficiently conducive to innovation, both technological and organisational. In this respect, the European Investment Bank with its “Innovation 2000” initiative and the Commission under the Action Plan on financial services and the multiannual programme for enterprises and entrepreneurship (2001-2006) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013) have takenn initiatives to contribute to the supply of risk capital for innovative businesses.

Maximising the benefits of the e-Economy: the next steps

This Communication highlights the steps that will have to be taken to maximise the benefits arising to European enterprises from the e-Economy. These steps encompass:

  • the fostering of a culture of entrepreneurship;
  • enhancing the ICT skills levels needed to participate effectively in the e-Economy;
  • raising the ability of European enterprises to compete in a modern global economy;
  • further improving the functioning of the internal market.

Skills underpin entrepreneurship. Both issues are tightly interrelated. The problem of the skills gap (entrepreneurial skills and technical ICT skills) has been addressed through a number of initiatives, notably in the European Employment Strategy and in the eLearning Action Plan (2001-2004). Taking into account these challenges, there is a need to:

  • accelerate the development of focused skills programmes and e-learning solutions;
  • strengthen research efforts not only in the area of technology, but also with regard to related socio-economic issues and to the effects on human resources;
  • strengthen on-going initiatives at all levels to help enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), acquire ICT and e-business skills;
  • monitor the demand for ICT and e-business skills in Europe, benchmark national policies, and strengthen co-operation and co-ordination at the European level;
  • launch focused projects in 2002, in close co-operation with Member States and the private sector, which aim to address the specific needs of enterprises, particularly SMEs.

The simplification and harmonisation activities undertaken at European level up to now should be continued in order to enable rapid development of pan-European businesses and fair trade in both the B2B and B2C environments. On the other hand, it is necessary to continue to review existing product legislation, in particular certification requirements and procedures to ensure that they are neutral between different means of product and service delivery.

Not all problems, however, can be resolved by legislation alone. Self-regulation should play an important role in promoting trust between partners in electronic transactions. Public policy should be aimed at raising credibility for self-regulation and at ensuring that codes of conduct are respected, through the availability, if needs be, of legal remedies.

In Europe, the e-Economy depends to a significant extent on the full participation of SMEs. The eEurope Go Digital initiative provided a first response to this challenge. It aimed to ensure that European enterprises, and in particular SMEs, fully embraced e-business and became active participants in the e-Economy. It is therefore necessary to:

  • foster open standards and certification procedures;
  • reinforce the security of networks and of information;
  • contribute to reinforcing legal certainty for SMEs engaging in cross border e-business;
  • optimise the use of existing resources, such as structural funds and research and technological development (RTD) budgets.

Exchanges between business and public administrations are a potentially powerful driving force for the e-Economy. This communication encourages public administrations to be at the leading edge of on-line service delivery, and to provide incentives for enterprises to access such services. Public administrations are also urged to continue these efforts to modernise their internal structure, by fostering, for example, the delivery of online services. The aim is to ensure broad interoperability both across borders and between administrations and business.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 13 March 2001 – eEurope 2002: Impact and Priorities

[COM(2001) 140 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 13 March 2001 – Helping SMEs to “Go Digital” [COM(2001) 136 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Councilof 20 December 2000 on a multiannual programme for enterprise and entrepreneurship, and in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (2001-2005) [Official Journal L 333 of 29.12.2000].

 

I2010: Digital libraries

i2010: Digital libraries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about i2010: Digital libraries

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

i2010: Digital libraries

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 30 September 2005 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – i2010: digital libraries [COM(2005) 465 final – Official Journal C 49 of 28.2.2008].

Summary

The purpose of the Digital Libraries Initiative is to make Europe’s cultural, audiovisual and scientific heritage accessible to all.

More specifically, the initiative aims to make European information sources more accessible and easier and more interesting to use in an online environment. Taking as its starting point our rich European heritage, the initiative combines cultural diversity, multilingualism and technological progress.

Definition

Digital libraries are organised collections of digital content made available to the public. The content is material that has either been digitised (copies of books and other documents) or that was initially produced in digital format.

There are three priority areas in which the potential of digital technologies is to be exploited to widen access to information:

  • online accessibility;
  • the digitisation of analogue collections;
  • the preservation and storage of digital content.

In addition to our European cultural heritage, another key area for digital libraries is scientific information.

Cultural, social and economic aspects

Digital libraries provide considerable added value in terms not only of cultural visibility, but also of jobs and investment.

Making the wealth of material contained in European libraries, museums and archives (books, newspapers, films, photographs, maps, etc.) available online will make it easier for citizens to appreciate their cultural heritage and use it for study, work or leisure. This will complement and support the objectives of the European Union (EU) action on culture.

Libraries and archives are major sectors of activity in terms of investments and employment. By increasing their use and the visibility of their resources, digitisation could significantly increase their already considerable impact on the economy as a whole.

Digitisation

There are two main reasons for digitising these resources:

  • to provide the widest possible access for the general public;
  • to ensure their survival.

At present, only a small part of our European collections has been digitised. In order to ensure that digitisation proceeds efficiently and at a reasonable pace, a number of challenges have to be overcome, one of these being the remarkable quantity and range of material held by European libraries and archives. The others fall into four categories:

  • financial challenges (the considerable investments and labour required);
  • organisational challenges (the risk of digitising the same works several times, and the need to upgrade the skills of the staff involved);
  • technical challenges (the need to improve digitisation techniques);
  • legal challenges (the compatibility of digitisation with intellectual property rights- IPRs).

Online accessibility

The system used by traditional libraries for lending material is not suitable for the digital environment. In addition, the prior consent of the holder of property rights is needed before material can be made available online, except where the material is in the public domain. Consequently, a European library will basically have to concentrate on public domain material. In some cases, the costs of establishing the IPR-status of a work will be higher than the cost of digitising it and bringing it online. This is particularly true for so-called ‘orphan works’ – films or books for which it is impossible or very difficult to determine who holds the rights.

Improving online accessibility also requires appropriate multilingual services to allow users to explore and work with the content.

Preserving digital content: the present situation and the challenges

Making a digital copy of a book or a film does not necessarily guarantee its long-term survival and so, digitisation without a suitable strategy for preserving material can result in a large-scale waste of resources (human and financial).

In addition, digital preservation is a serious problem for the information society, with the supply of information growing exponentially and content becoming more and more dynamic. At present, we have little experience with digital preservation, the legal framework is evolving, resources are scarce and the outcome of work to preserve content is uncertain.

The main causes of the loss of digital content are the:

  • succession of generations of computer hardware that can render files unreadable;
  • rapid succession and obsolescence of software applications;
  • limited lifetime of digital storage devices, such as CD-ROMs.

Libraries and archives have started tackling the issue of preservation in the digital age on a limited scale. However, within the individual Member States there is, in general, no clear policy.

Although most progress has been made in the area of legal deposit, the scope of this varies widely from country to country.

As with digitisation, the preservation of content also poses a number of challenges:

  • financial challenges (the actual long-term cost of preservation is still not known for sure);
  • organisational challenges (there is a risk that differing approaches will be adopted, effort will be duplicated, working methods will be inappropriate, staff will not have the necessary skills and there will be a lack of cooperation between public and private players);
  • technical challenges (essentially, digital preservation needs to be made more cost-efficient and affordable);
  • legal challenges (as digital preservation depends on copying and migration, it must comply with IPR legislation. The legal deposit of digital material also raises a number of questions, including the different rules in force).

A European response

While organising and funding the digitisation of cultural collections and their digital preservation is primarily a responsibility of the Member States, considerable European added value can be achieved in certain specific areas.

A number of initiatives have already been taken at European level, including:

  • the eEurope Action Plan launched by the Commission in 1999, which was followed by further Action Plans in 2002 and 2005;
  • the Lund Principles and the corresponding Action Plan;
  • the creation of a National Representatives Group on digitisation;
  • the Council Resolution of 25 June 2002 on preserving tomorrow’s memory – preserving digital content for future generations;
  • the Council Recommendation 2005/835/EC of 14 November 2005 on priority actions to increase cooperation in the field of archives in Europe.

Further initiatives will be taken in the near future:

  • a proposal for a Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation;
  • a Communication on digital libraries of scientific information.

As regards co-financing at Community level, the research programmes, the eContentplus and Culture programmes as well as the Regional Funds will be used for actions with a European interest for the digitisation, digital preservation and accessibility of cultural content:

  • under the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development, the Commission will part-finance the establishment of a network of centres of competence for digitisation and preservation;
  • under the eContentplus programme, EUR 60 million will be available in the period 2005-08 for projects improving the accessibility and usability of European cultural and scientific content;
  • the Regional Funds already part-finance digitisation initiatives in some of the Member States;
  • digitisation is one of the principal objectives of the cooperation projects part-financed under the “Culture 2000” programme. Part-financing is also available under the “Culture 2007” programme. This should improve the transnational circulation of cultural works and products.

Related Acts

Commission Recommendation 2006/585/EC of 24 August 2006 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation [Official Journal L 236 of 31.8.2006].

In this Recommendation, the Commission calls on Member States to speed up the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material (books, films, photographs, manuscripts, etc). The aim is to put Europe’s cultural heritage online through the European Digital Library. To this end, Member States are encouraged to:

  • collect information for producing overviews of digitisation;
  • develop quantitative targets for digitisation;
  • create public-private partnerships for funding purposes;
  • develop facilities for large-scale digitisation;
  • endorse the European Digital Library;
  • improve the conditions in which cultural material is digitised and accessed online.

Furthermore, the Commission is recommending that Member States take steps to further the digital preservation of cultural material by:

  • setting-up national strategies and action plans, and exchanging information on these;
  • establishing appropriate legislative provisions for the multiple copying and migration of digital material, as well as for the preservation of web-content;
  • creating policies and procedures for the deposit of digital material, with due consideration given to the measures of other Member States.

Communication from the Commission of 1 June 2005 to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – “i2010 – A European Information Society for growth and employment” [COM(2005) 229 final – Official Journal C 236 of 24.9.2005].

I2010 eGovernment Action Plan

i2010 eGovernment Action Plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about i2010 eGovernment Action Plan

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

i2010 eGovernment Action Plan

This Action Plan is designed to make public services more efficient and more modern and to target the needs of the general population more precisely. To do this, it proposes a series of priorities and a roadmap to accelerate the deployment of eGovernment in Europe.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission, of 25 April 2006, i2010 eGovernment Action Plan – Accelerating eGovernment in Europe for the Benefit of All [COM(2006) 173 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Action Plan stresses the importance of accelerating the introduction of eGovernment * in Europe to respond to a number of challenges and requirements:

  • modernise public services and make them more effective;
  • provide better-quality and more secure services to the general population;
  • respond to the requests of businesses which would like less bureaucracy and more efficiency;
  • ensure the cross-border continuity of public services, crucial for sustaining mobility in Europe.

eGovernment initiatives have already enabled a number of Member States to make substantial savings of both time and money. Moreover, it is estimated that a total of 50 billion euro could be saved annually if electronic invoicing were to become common practice in Europe.

Objectives of the Action Plan

The Commission aims to achieve the following with this Action Plan:

  • accelerate the delivery of tangible benefits for citizens and businesses through eGovernment;
  • ensure that eGovernment at national level does not create any new barriers in the internal market, e.g. due to lack of interoperability;
  • extend the benefits of eGovernment to European Union (EU) level by allowing economies of scale.

FIVE PRIORITIES

The Plan identifies five priority areas:

Access for all

The spread of eGovernment should benefit everybody. For this to happen, it is necessary that disadvantaged people encounter as few obstacles as possible when accessing public services on-line.

In this fight against the digital divide, Member States have committed to ensuring that, by 2010, all citizens, including socially disadvantaged groups, become major beneficiaries of eGovernment.

In accordance with the eAccessibility* Communication and the agenda for eInclusion*, the Commission will support the Member States’ efforts to achieve these objectives.

Increased efficiency

The Member States have committed themselves to achieving gains in efficiency through the innovative use of information and communication technologies (ICT) * and to significantly lightening the administrative burden by 2010.

To facilitate this process, the Action Plan provides for the Member States and the Commission to put in place a system for comparatively evaluating the impact and benefit of eGovernment. Measures will also be taken to encourage greater sharing of experience.

High-impact eGovernment services

A number of services delivered across borders make a significant difference to citizens, businesses and administrations. They can consequently act as flagships for European eGovernment.

One such high-impact service is electronic public procurement. Public contracts represent 15 to 20% of GDP, i.e. about 1 500 billion euro every year in Europe. Electronic procurement could result in an annual saving of tens of billions of euro. Hence the importance of a high level of take-up of e-procurement.

The Member States have undertaken to give their public administrations the capability to carry out 100% of their procurement electronically. In particular, this means ensuring that at least 50% of procurement above the EC threshold (from 50 000 euro for simple public services to 6 000 000 euro for public works) is carried out electronically by 2010.

The Action Plan provides for a roadmap for meeting these objectives. Between 2006 and 2010, cooperation on additional high-impact eGovernment services will be agreed with the Member States.

Putting key enablers in place

To optimise eGovernment, certain key enablers need to be in place, such as:

  • interoperable electronic identification management * (eID) for access to public services;
  • electronic document authentication;
  • electronic archiving.

The Member States have agreed to put in place by 2010 secure systems of mutual recognition of national electronic identifiers for websites and public administration services.

The Commission will contribute to these efforts, defining common specifications for the management of electronic identification and monitoring large-scale pilots of e-IDMs.

Increased participation in decision-making

ICT have great potential to involve large numbers of citizens in public debate and decision-making. Indeed, 65% of respondents to an on-line eGovernment policy poll considered that on-line democracy (“eDemocracy”) can help reduce democratic deficits.

To encourage this potential, the Action Plan proposes support for projects which enhance the use of ICT with the aim of increasing public involvement in the democratic process.

Background

This Action Plan is part of the EU’s i2010 strategy, which aims to stimulate the development of the digital economy in Europe. It draws on the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the 3rd Ministerial eGovernment Conference (November 2005, Manchester, United Kingdom), which set expectations for measurable benefits from eGovernment by 2010.

Key terms used in the act
eGovernment: eGovernment seeks to use information and communication technologies to improve the quality and accessibility of public services. It can reduce costs for businesses and administrations alike, and facilitate transactions between administrations and citizens. It also helps to make the public sector more open and transparent and governments more accountable and understandable to citizens.
Information and communication technologies (ICT): the term ICT covers a wide range of services, applications, technologies, devices and software, i.e. tools such as telephony and the Internet, distance learning, televisions, computers, and the networks and software required to use these technologies, which are revolutionising social, cultural and economic structures by creating new attitudes towards information, knowledge, working life, etc.
eAccessibility: eAccessibility refers to initiatives taken to ensure that all citizens have access to Information Society services. This is about removing the technical, legal and other barriers that some people encounter when using ICT-related services.
eInclusion: this concept is linked to the development of an Information Society for all, i.e. one which ensures equal access to ICT and the same availability at an affordable cost. In particular, eInclusion involves putting in place systems which allow elderly people and people with disabilities easy access to Information Society services.
Interoperability: interoperability means that several systems, whether they are identical or radically different, can communicate without ambiguity and work together.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 1 June 2005, “i2010 – A European Information Society for growth and employment ” [COM(2005) 229 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 26 September 2003, “The Role of eGovernment for Europe’s Future” [COM(2003) 567 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

 

Ageing well in the Information Society: Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing

Ageing well in the Information Society: Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Ageing well in the Information Society: Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

Ageing well in the Information Society: Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 14 June 2007: Ageing well in the Information Society – An i2010 initiative – Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing [COM(2007) 332 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The ageing of Europe’s population poses a challenge to the European market for employment, social services systems and health care. But it also provides an economic and social opportunity: Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) will give rise to new, more accessible products and services satisfying the needs of older people.

The action plan seeks to promote and coordinate the development of ICTs associated with services for older people in the European Union (EU), to enable them to:

  • prolong their working life, while maintaining a work-life balance;
  • stay socially active and creative, through networking and access to public and commercial services. This would reduce the social isolation of older people, particularly in rural areas;
  • age well at home: ICTs must encourage a higher quality of life and degree of independence.

Europe must adopt ICT for ageing well *. These technologies may indeed become a driver for jobs and growth, as well as a successful lead market.

For the moment, the market for services associated with ageing remains fragmented. Furthermore, none of the stakeholders (older people, industry, public authorities) have an overview of the problems and the solutions needed. Market development is hampered by the lack of exchange of experience and good practice. Standards, procedures, reimbursement schemes and provisions related to disability vary from one Member State to another. Finally, technical barriers stand in the way: older people do not necessarily have the technological tools and know-how needed.

In order to rationalise this system the Commission is encouraging stakeholders to place users at the centre of their thinking.

The objectives of the Commission’s action plan are therefore aimed as much at citizens as at businesses and public authorities. The objectives are:

  • for citizens, a better quality of life and better health;
  • for companies, increased market size and market opportunities in the internal market for ICT and ageing, better skilled and productive workforce and a stronger position in the growing markets worldwide;
  • for public authorities, cost reductions, increased efficiency and better overall quality of health and social care systems.

The action plan is structured around four areas:

  • removing legal and technical barriers to development of the market, by assessing the markets and facilitating the exchange of good practices between Member States. The Commission proposes assessing the technological possibilities and identifying guidance and target dates. This is with a view to removing legal and technical barriers to the uptake of ICTs for independent living. The Member States should, in parallel, strengthen the implementation of current legal requirements for e-Accessibility;
  • raising awareness and building consensus through the cooperation and development of partnerships between the different stakeholders. ICT for ageing well will be a key contribution to the European e-Inclusion Initiative in 2008. The launch of an internet portal for ICT and ageing is also planned.
  • accelerating take-up of technologies, for example, through a set of pilot projects and a European award scheme for smart homes and independent living applications;
  • stimulating research and innovation, through immediate support for shared research agendas between the public and private sectors, dedicated to “Ambient Assisted Living”. This agenda seeks to encourage the emergence of innovative ICT-based products, services and systems for the benefit of Europe’s ageing population.

The Commission seeks to improve ICT-based research for older people in the 7th framework programme (FP7) for research, technological development and demonstration activities. Other initiatives are being launched within the context of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme. These will be accompanied by a new European Shared Research Programme. In total, the programmes will increase investment in ICT research and innovation to over EUR 1 billion.

In the future, better coordination between Member States is necessary to stimulate market-oriented research in this field. To achieve these objectives, a common research initiative “Ageing well in the Information Society” will be set up. Furthermore, businesses, industry, service providers, etc. will be encouraged to establish dialogue, particularly through technology platforms, to allow for more rapid emergence of innovative products, services and systems.

Background

This action plan forms an integral part of the European Union i2010 initiative – An information society for growth and jobs. The Commission had previously adopted a strategy on accessibility of online products and services in 2005, and in 2006 the Member States reached agreement in Riga on a policy agenda  for an accessible information society based on inclusion.

Ageing in Europe is an important economic and social challenge: in 2020, a quarter of Europe’s population will be over 65, while expenditure on retirement and health care will have tripled by 2050. However, older people are also consumers that should not be discounted, with global wealth in excess of EUR 3 000 billion.

Key terms used in the act
  • ICT for ageing well: Information and Communication Technologies dedicated to services to persons, aimed at making these services more accessible and effective for an ageing population, particularly in terms of health.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 1 June 2005: “i2010 – A European Information Society for growth and employment” [COM(2005) 229 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 8 November 2007: “European i2010 initiative on e-Inclusion – To be part of the information society”. [COM(2007) 694 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Electronic skills for the 21st century: fostering competitiveness, growth and jobs

Electronic skills for the 21st century: fostering competitiveness, growth and jobs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Electronic skills for the 21st century: fostering competitiveness, growth and jobs

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

Electronic skills for the 21st century: fostering competitiveness, growth and jobs

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 7 September 2007 entitled “E-skills for the 21st century: fostering competitiveness, growth and jobs” [COM(2007) 496 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) represent a major challenge in terms of productivity, growth and jobs. The EU and its Member States must quickly adopt rapidly-developing ICT in order to bridge the e-skills gap and be in a position to create a real knowledge-based economy.

The Commission’s observations are as follows:

  • e-skills are not really recognised as a major political challenge;
  • there is no comprehensive e-skills strategy in the EU, where regulations still differ from one country to another;
  • the image problem and decline in supply of highly-skilled ICT practitioners, which creates a labour deficit in this field, must be remedied;
  • an even larger gap is opening up between supply and demand of specific e-skills, while digital illiteracy persists.

Therefore, the Commission is insisting on the need to establish a long-term e-skills agenda. Implementation of these measures is the responsibility of the Member States, but they must bring real added value at European level.

The Commission proposes giving its support to initiatives by defining the key components of the agenda and presenting action lines at the European level.

The key components of the agenda are as follows:

  • creating long-term cooperation between the various stakeholders (public authorities, private sector, universities, associations, etc.);
  • investing in human resources;
  • promotion of sciences, maths, e-skills and ICTs and encouraging careers in this field, particularly for young people and girls;
  • improving digital literacy with the emphasis on categories of the population like the unemployed, elderly people and also those with low education levels in order to encourage employability and e-inclusion;
  • enabling lifelong acquisition of e-skills in particular through updating knowledge and developing e-learning.

Action lines at the European level

The Commission proposes five action lines, the activities of which must begin in 2007 for complete implementation by 2010. They will be implemented through European programmes, such as the Lifelong Learning Programme, the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), and Structural Funds available for the promotion of Employment and Regional Cohesion.

These action lines involve:

  • promoting long-term cooperation and monitoring progress: the Commission will promote regular dialogue between all stakeholders (Member States, industry, associations, etc.). The Commission will also publish an annual report on e-skills acquisition;
  • developing supporting actions and tools. This involves in particular: supporting the development of a European e-Competence Framework, further promoting the Europass initiative, producing a European handbook on multi-stakeholder partnerships, setting up fast-track schemes for third-country ICT practitioners to the EU, encouraging women to choose ICT careers (IT girls shadowing exercise) and promoting e-training in the field of agriculture and in rural areas;
  • raising awareness, in particular by encouraging exchange of information and good practices between Member States and by promoting awareness and information campaigns at European and national level;
  • fostering employability and social inclusion: as part of the initiative on e-inclusion, the Commission intends to promote initiatives and partnerships between providers of training and trainees, and to investigate how public and private funding can support multi-stakeholder initiatives;
  • promoting better and greater use of e-learning: the Commission will release a report in 2008 with recommendations for targeted e-learning initiatives. It will also promote the development of e-learning courses and exchange mechanisms of training resources for the workforce by 2009. Finally, it will support the networking of training and research centres to create better understanding of future e-skills needs.

Go Digital: helping small and medium-sized enterprises go digital

Go Digital: helping small and medium-sized enterprises go digital

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Go Digital: helping small and medium-sized enterprises go digital

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Go Digital: helping small and medium-sized enterprises go digital

Last updated: 19.09.2003

Electronic interchange of data between administrations: IDA programme

Electronic interchange of data between administrations: IDA programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Electronic interchange of data between administrations: IDA programme

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Electronic interchange of data between administrations: IDA programme

The IDA (Interchange of Data between Administrations) programme aims to promote the development and operation of trans-European telematic networks for data interchange between Member State administrations and/or the Community institutions.

Following on from the first IDA programme, the second phase of the programme (IDA II) was launched in 1999, with the adoption of the two present decisions. The programme has been redirected towards the market and interoperability, with a view to increasing the efficiency of the delivery of on-line eGoverment services to European businesses and citizens.
The IDABC will take over from IDA II when it expires on 31 December 2004.

Acts

Decision 1719/1999/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 1999 on a series of guidelines, including the identification of projects of common interest, for trans-European networks for the electronic interchange of data between administrations (IDA);

and

Decision 1720/1999/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 1999 adopting a series of actions and measures in order to ensure interoperability of and access to trans-European networks for the electronic interchange of data between administrations (IDA) [See amending acts].

Summary

The first phase of the programme (IDA I), which started in 1995 (Decision 95/468/EC), contributed to the establishment of large telematic networks in the areas of employment, health, agriculture, statistics and competition.

Areas of intervention

The IDA II programme supports the implementation of projects of common interest relating in particular to the development and creation of telematic networks in the area of Community policies such as Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), consumer protection, health and transport.

Objectives

The objectives pursued by the Community with the IDA programme are:

  • to achieve a high degree of interoperability between the telematic networks in the Member States and between the Community and the Member States;
  • to make such networks converge towards a common telematic interface between the Community and the Member States;
  • to achieve benefits for Member State administrations and the Community resulting in particular from the streamlining of operations, a reduction in maintenance, speeding up the implementation of new networks and the provision of safe and reliable data interchange;
  • to extend the benefits of these networks to EU businesses and citizens;
  • to promote the spread of best practice and encourage the development of innovative telematic solutions in administrations.

Eligibility criteria

Projects must be in the area of Community policies and activities.

Priority is given to projects improving the economic viability of public administrations, European institutions, the Member States and regions which, by setting up or developing a sectoral network:

  • help to overcome the obstacles to the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital;
  • contribute to the successful implementation of EMU;
  • promote institutional cooperation between the Community institutions and between those institutions and the national and regional administrations;
  • help to safeguard the financial interests of the Community and Member States and combat fraud;
  • contribute to preparing for EU enlargement;
  • promote the competitiveness of Community industry and, more particularly, small and medium-sized businesses;
  • benefit EU citizens.

Beneficiaries

The principal beneficiaries are the national or regional administrations of the Member States and the Community institutions.

Community financial contribution

The costs of carrying out IDA projects are borne by the Community in proportion to the likely benefits for it. The estimated budget for the period 1999-2004 is about EUR 24 million per annum.

General implementation framework

IDA projects are broken down into four phases as follows:

  • a preparatory phase leading to a preliminary report on the objectives, scope and purpose of the project (in particular the anticipated costs and benefits);
  • a feasibility phase leading to the drawing up of a global implementation plan;
  • a finalisation and validation phase which may include small-scale testing, evaluation and control of the solution proposed for the networks concerned;
  • an implementation phase consisting of starting up the networks concerned.

Accession countries

Following amendments made to the Decisions forming its legal basis, the IDA programme is now open to the accession countries. On 24 April 2003 Slovenia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Malta, Estonia and Cyprus signed memoranda of understanding with the European Commission formalising their participation in the IDA programme. By signing the memoranda of understanding, these countries can take part in the programme on the same conditions as the members of the European Economic Area. They will also contribute to the annual IDA budget. The other accession countries and the three candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey) are set to follow in the course of 2003.

Link to the eEurope Action Plan

In January 2002 the IDA programme also became the instrument for implementing the e-government chapter of the eEurope 2005 action plan. The IDA programme supports the development of services geared to safe and efficient electronic data interchange between the various levels of administration. These are essential for providing modern on-line public services, as provided for in the eEurope 2005 Action Plan.

Under the IDA programme, the Commission has set up and funded for the last two years a secure network communications infrastructure for data interchange (TESTA – Trans-European Services for Telematics between Administrations) between practically all the administrations of the Member States – and soon of the accession countries as well – and the European institutions. With the development of e-government projects, the TESTA network will be able to support pan-European services for citizens and businesses. IDA also funds the TESS (Telematics in Social Security) programme.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 1719/1999/EC [adoption: co-decision COD/1997/0340] 03.08.1999 OJ L 203 of 03.08.1999
Decision 1720/1999/EC [adoption: co-decision COD/1997/0341] 03.08.1999 OJ L 203 of 03.08.1999
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2046/2002/EC [adoption: co-decision COD/2001/210] 20.11.2002 OJ L 316 of 20.11.2002
Decision 2045/2002/EC [adoption: co-decision COD/2001/0211] 20.11.2002 OJ L 316 of 20.11.2002

Related Acts

Report [COM(2003) 100 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Commission Report of 7 March 2003 to the European Parliament and the Council – IDA II Mid-Term Evaluation.
This mid-term evaluation report contains a number of recommendations as follows:

  • there should be greater emphasis on a cost-benefit analysis of projects;
  • a description of an infrastructure should be drawn up to serve as a platform for the development of projects of common interest and other sectoral networks;
  • the assistance from the IDA team to the various sectoral administrations participating in the programme should be further strengthened;
  • the size and complexity of procedures for implementing projects should be reduced. Streamlining procedures would enable administrative overheads to be reduced and data collection to be improved;
  • there should be a continuously maintained register (matrix) of the horizontal action and measure outputs and the projects that use them, incorporating contact details for the IDA and sectoral project managers.

Decision 2004/387/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on the interoperable delivery of pan-European eGovernment services to public administrations, businesses and citizens (IDABC) [Official Journal L 144 of 30 April 2004].
The new IDABC (Interoperable Delivery of pan-European eGovernment Services) programme has the objective of delivering pan-European on-line eGoverment services to public administrations, businesses and citizens.
This programme is a follow-on to the IDA II programme which ended on 31 December, 2004. The IDABC programme was therefore be launched on 1 January 2005 for a period lasting until 2009.

IDABC is a broader eGovernment programme that will cover the objectives of the present IDA programme. It will, however, go further in also establishing pan-European eGovernment services for businesses and citizens. The new programme will be made up of two strands:
– projects of common interest in support of sectoral policies;
– horizontal measures in support of interoperability.

Furthermore, the scope of the IDABC Programme is broader in as far as it encompasses networks as well as services and extends the benefits of the interaction between administrations to businesses and citizens. Finally, increased funding should be available to ensure efficient, effective and secure interchange of information, taking full account of the linguistic diversity of the Community. More specifically, the Commission proposes that the IDABC programme be endowed with a budget of just over 148 million euros, of which 59 millions for the period up to 31 December 2006.

The IDABC Programme

The IDABC Programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The IDABC Programme

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The IDABC Programme (2005-2009)

Interoperable Delivery of Pan-European eGovernment Services to Public Administrations, Business and Citizens) aims to deliver the services its title suggests. The goal is to improve the effectiveness of European public administrations and cooperation between them.

Document or Iniciative

Decision 2004/387/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on the interoperable delivery of pan-European eGovernment services to public administrations, businesses and citizens (IDABC) [Official Journal L 144 of 30 April 2004].

Summary

IDABC is an eGovernment programme for the period 2005-2009.

It succeeds the Interchange of Data between Administrations programme (IDA), with a broader scope. It covers the objectives of the IDA programme but also aims to create pan-European eGovernment services for businesses and citizens.

IDABC forms part of the eEurope 2005 and i2010 initiatives Interoperability * and open standards remain priority areas, and are joined by the new pan-European services to be set up.

Objectives

The IDABC programme aims to support and promote the development of pan-European eGovernment services * and the underlying interoperable telematic networks.

The programme also aims to:

  • enable the interchange of information between public administrations, as well as between such administrations and the Community institutions;
  • facilitate the delivery of pan-European services to businesses and citizens taking account of their needs;
  • achieve interoperability across different policy areas, notably on the basis of a European Interoperability Framework;
  • promote the spread of good practice and encourage the development of innovative telematic solutions in public administrations.

Projects of common interest and horizontal measures

The IDABC programme includes projects of common interest to help implement Community legislation and improve interinstitutional cooperation.

The programme also contains horizontal measures which aim to establish horizontal pan-European eGovernment and infrastructure services, particularly those promoting interoperability.

Implementation principles

The implementation of projects of common interest and horizontal measures should follow a certain number of principles, such that they:

  • are founded on a sectoral legal basis (for projects of common interest);
  • involve as many Member States as possible;
  • include, whenever appropriate, a preparatory phase and comprise a feasibility phase, a development and validation phase, and an implementation phase;
  • take other Community programmes into account to avoid duplication. These may be research and technological development programmes, or the eTen, eContent, eInclusion and eLearning programmes;
  • take account of the European interoperability framework provided by the IDABC programme;
  • make use of horizontal pan-European eGovernment and infrastructure services whenever possible (for projects of common interest);
  • carry out a post-implementation review of projects and measures within one year of the end of the implementation phase.

Implementation procedure

The Commission must establish a rolling work programme for the whole period covered by this Decision for the implementation of projects of common interest and horizontal measures.

Community financial contribution

Concerning the implementation of projects of common interest and horizontal measures, the Community bears costs in proportion to its interest.

For a project of common interest or a horizontal measure to receive a financial contribution from the Community, concrete plans for financing the maintenance and operational costs of the post-implementation phase are required. In the preparatory and feasibility phases, the Community contribution may cover the full cost of the necessary studies.

In the development, validation and implementation phases, the Community bears the cost of those tasks that are assigned to it in the global implementation plan of that project of common interest or horizontal measure.

International cooperation

The countries of the European Economic Area and candidate countries may participate in the IDABC programme within the framework of their respective agreements with the Community. Cooperation with other third countries is encouraged, notably with public administrations in Mediterranean countries, the Balkans and Eastern European countries.

Financial framework

The financial framework for the IDABC programme is set at EUR 148.7 million for the period from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2009.

Key terms used in the act
  • Pan-European eGovernment services: cross-border public sector information and interactive services provided by European public administrations to European public administrations, businesses and citizens, by means of interoperable trans-European telematic networks.
  • Interoperability: the ability of information and communication technology systems to exchange data and to enable information and knowledge to be shared.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2004/387/EC

20.5.2004

OJ L 144 of 30.4.2004

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 29 May 2009 – Final evaluation of the implementation of the IDABC programme [COM(2009) 247 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication publishes the results of the final evaluation of the implementation of the IDABC programme. The evaluation focussed on aspects such as the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, utility, sustainability and coherence of the programme.

The conclusions were largely positive, even though the programme was delayed in 2005. The IDABC programme fulfilled most of the objectives in the area of eGovernment detailed in the i2010 strategy.

The ISA programme will follow on from the IDABC programme. The actions implemented under the framework of this future programme will principally cover:

  • the strategic environment in which the programme should operate;
  • the stakeholder communication tools;
  • the development of monitoring methods.

The future ISA programme will pursue the communication efforts of the IDABC programme.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 24 October 2006 – Evaluation of the implementation of the IDABC programme [COM(2006) 611 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This communication reports the conclusions and recommendations resulting from the mid-term evaluation of the programme.

The evaluation, which was largely positive, emphasised the relevance and utility of the IDABC programme. The stakeholders consulted feel that it contributes real value-added to the online supply of administration services. But the programme is still at an early stage of its implementation, and it is not yet possible to present an analysis of its implications in the Community or measure its effectiveness.

However, the evaluation has highlighted a few shortcomings which need to be considered in the further implementation of the programme. Accordingly, a number of recommendations have been drawn up, including:

  • ensure that all players know their part in the implementation process;
  • step up efforts to gather and disseminate specific and up-to-date information about users’ needs;
  • carry out an appraisal of the links between the various EU programmes within which the Community develops interoperable eGovernment initiatives.

Globalisation and the information society: the need for strengthened international coordination

Globalisation and the information society: the need for strengthened international coordination

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Globalisation and the information society: the need for strengthened international coordination

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Information society > Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

Globalisation and the information society: the need for strengthened international coordination

To meet the new challenges of globalisation, this communication identifies the areas relevant to telecommunications and new electronic services which require strengthened international cooperation. The objective is to reach wider agreement at international level on how to proceed with a view to creating a frontier-free electronic market while respecting the public interest.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 4 February 1998 to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: “The Globalisation of the Information Society: the need for strengthened international coordination” [COM(98) 50 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

A truly global electronic market is emerging. Its origins are to be found in the strong growth witnessed over the last two decades in the field of telephony and, more recently, GSM mobile communications. This development has been accompanied by rapidly falling prices in the wake of lower costs and more intense competition, and by the rapid development of data networks, especially the Internet.

About a hundred countries are now connected to the Internet. At the last count there were about 20 million “Internet hosts” worldwide. It is estimated that there will be 250 million Internet users by the year 2000. These developments mean that communications are not solely a global commercial activity, but are also supporting the globalisation and networking of economic activities.

Various public bodies (ITU, ISO, ETSI, CEPT etc.) have been created in the telecommunications sector to supervise agreements on technical issues and promote the interconnection and interoperability of networks, standards and national frequencies.

The Internet community is working towards open standards that will permit interoperability and competition. The existence of open standards is proving particularly important with regard to hardware and software tools required for accessing and using the Internet.

The electronic market will boost globalisation, which, as international trade data show, is gaining in intensity. The share of the world income has more than tripled since 1950.

A number of agreements have given additional impetus to these trends, especially those concluded under the auspices of the WTO, and the GATT, GATS and TRIPS agreements which, together with the recent agreement on telecommunications services, will continue to play an important role in trade liberalisation.

One of the major obstacles to the development of advanced communication services is the high cost of telecommunications. However, cost reductions associated with competition are pushing tariffs down, creating a single world infrastructure where physical distances are of diminishing importance.

The principle is that the legal frameworks governing the “off-line” world will have to be applied to the “on-line” world, and that public interest will need to be protected in an appropriate manner. However, the technical possibilities of open networks such as the Internet are already testing existing legal structures in numerous fields (taxation, intellectual property, legal competence, labour law, data protection, consumer protection, etc.).

The on-line world economy requires a suitable framework covering technical, commercial and legal aspects. This should encourage the interoperability of technical solutions and competitive practices and the application of compatible rules. However, there is no need for detailed harmonised rules on all aspects.

The above analysis clearly shows that these issues have growing legal implications. It is therefore becoming more and more essential to solve them on a worldwide basis since the uncertainties surrounding the various solutions will constitute obstacles to the development of a worldwide electronic market.

For the moment, a detailed examination of the problems and priorities is urgently required, so that the international community can tackle them in a systematic, coordinated manner.
Opportunities for exchange of information (round tables of national experts from the Member States, forums etc.) can help identify and solve problems.

Wherever possible, the Commission will support activities which give all concerned the opportunity to make their views known in a more coordinated way and to exchange information.

It is also important, however, to make these opinions known to policy decision makers at world level. These issues should be brought up at international ministerial events to be held in 1998 and an international ministerial conference should be organised for the end of 1998 or the beginning of 1999.

All those concerned should consider the options for concerted actions. It is not a question of establishing a new international monitoring authority or a set of binding rules. Rather, they will have to reach a forward-looking agreement geared towards the best means of devising common approaches to the problems and their solutions, i.e. developing an ongoing coordination procedure which takes appropriate account of public and private interests.

This could be done at multilateral level under an international charter which would:

  • contain a multilateral agreement on a method of coordination, aimed at dismantling the obstacles to worldwide electronic trading;
  • have non-binding legal status;
  • take into account the work already being done by existing international authorities;
  • encourage the participation of the private sector and of the social groups concerned;
  • contribute to greater regulatory transparency.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 19 November 2004 – “Challenges for the European Information Society beyond 2005” [COM(2004) 757 final – not published in the Official Journal].

With this Communication, the Commission aims to launch a broad policy debate on EU information society strategy beyond 2005.

Communication to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: “The information society: from Corfu to Dublin: new priorities to be taken into account” [COM(96) 395 final – not published in the Official Journal].

This communication defines various lines of action identified as priorities of equal importance in the framework of the information society.