Category Archives: Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

The Digital Agenda is part of the Europe 2020 strategy. It is aimed at better developing the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in order to promote innovation, economic growth and progress. It follows the i2010, eEurope 2005, eEurope 2002 and eEurope initiatives.

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.

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

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

Last updated: 19.09.2003

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

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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

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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].

Digital Strategy, i2010 Strategy, eEurope Action Plan, Digital Strategy Programmes

Digital Strategy, i2010 Strategy, eEurope Action Plan, Digital Strategy Programmes

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Digital Strategy, i2010 Strategy, eEurope Action Plan, Digital Strategy Programmes

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

Digital Strategy, i2010 Strategy, eEurope Action Plan, Digital Strategy Programmes

The Digital Agenda is part of the Europe 2020 strategy. It is aimed at better developing the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in order to promote innovation, economic growth and progress. It follows the i2010, eEurope 2005, eEurope 2002 and eEurope initiatives.

Digital Strategy

  • Digital Agenda for Europe
  • ICT and eGovernment: European Action Plan 2011-2015
  • Next Generation Access Networks (NGA)
  • Broadband: investing in digitally driven growth
  • Electronic skills for the 21st century: fostering competitiveness, growth and jobs

i2010 Strategy and eEurope Action plans

i2010

  • Media literacy in the digital environment
  • Access for rural areas to ICTs
  • Initiative on digital integration
  • i2010 eGovernment Action Plan
  • Ageing well in the Information Society: Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing
  • i2010: Information Society and the media working towards growth and jobs
  • eAccessibility
  • i2010: Digital libraries
  • Media literacy in the digital age

eEurope 2005

  • Challenges for the European Information Society beyond 2005
  • eEurope 2005
  • eGovernment
  • Online learning: eLearning Programme (2004-06)
  • eContentplus (2005-2008)
  • e-Health: improving health and healthcare through the use of information and communications technologies
  • eTen Programme: support for trans-European telecommunications networks
  • MODINIS programme: follow-up of eEurope 2005 action plan

eEurope 2002

  • eEurope 2002
  • Stimulating the production of European digital content: the eContent Programme (2001-04)
  • Go Digital: helping small and medium-sized enterprises “go digital”
  • Impact of the e-Economy on European enterprises

eEurope

  • eEurope – An information society for all
  • Globalisation and the information society: the need for strengthened international coordination

Programmes

  • Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013)
  • The IDABC Programme (2005-2009)
  • Electronic interchange of data between administrations: IDA programme
  • Sixth Framework Programme (2000-2006): Information Society Technologies

Media literacy in the digital age

Media literacy in the digital age

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Media literacy in the digital age

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

Media literacy in the digital age

The production and consumption of media in the digital age is transforming the media sector. Broadband networks are becoming more accessible and participation in the creation of online content is creating unprecedented volumes of information and content, prompting the Commission to support media literacy initiatives.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 20 December 2007 – A European approach to media literacy in the digital environment [COM(2007) 833 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Media literacy is defined as the ability to access, understand, critically evaluate and create media content.

It is essential for the development of active and aware citizenship. It gives European citizens the opportunity to better pinpoint the cultural and economic dimension of all types of media associated with digital technology (television, cinema, video, websites, radio, video games and online communities).

A high level of media literacy can contribute to achieving the Lisbon objectives by fostering the emergence of a knowledge economy and by boosting competitiveness in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and media sectors.

Media literacy can give a new boost to European audiovisual policy. The Commission’s Report on implementation of the new ” Audiovisual Media Services ” Directive will give an account of media literacy levels in the Member States up to 2011. This Directive also relates to the MEDIA 2007 support programme by focusing on access to audiovisual works and promotion of European audiovisual heritage.

How can the effectiveness of media literacy be guaranteed?

The Commission considers media literacy in three fields:

  • online content;
  • commercial communication;
  • audiovisual works.

Effective media literacy allows users to critically evaluate online content. The Commission wishes, for example, to develop a critical approach to commercial communication as an alternative to bans on certain practices.

Media literacy must generally encourage online accessibility aimed at ensuring that developments in the information society can be enjoyed by disabled or disadvantaged persons or those discriminated against due to their sex, ethnic origin, age, religion or sexual orientation.

For audiovisual works, media literacy involves raising awareness of European cinematographic heritage and the support for audiovisual creativity.

This communication is based on the conclusions of the wide public consultation launched in October 2006 (pdf ), which focuses on spreading good local and national practice in the field of media literacy.

In light of all these priorities, Member States are invited to:

  • encourage the national authorities responsible for regulating audiovisual and electronic communications to play a bigger role in media literacy initiatives;
  • regularly monitor media literacy initiatives and define new evaluation criteria;
  • develop codes of conduct or legislative frameworks by involving all interested parties, namely the national regulatory authorities, consumer associations, content providers and producers, media sector companies, educational establishments and cultural and research institutions.

Background

The Recommendation on the protection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and online information services industry underlines the importance of media literacy.

Media literacy initiatives will be established as part of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

Initiative on digital integration

Initiative on digital integration

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Initiative on digital integration

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

Initiative on digital integration