ETen Programme: support for trans-European telecommunications networks

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eTen Programme: support for trans-European telecommunications networks

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about eTen Programme: support for trans-European telecommunications networks


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eTen Programme: support for trans-European telecommunications networks

eTen is an essential component of the eEurope 2005 action plan and i2010 aimed at encouraging the development of electronic services, applications and content and speeding up the deployment of secure broadband Internet access.

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation No 2236/1995/EC of 18 September 1995 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks, [See amending acts].


The eTen Programme (known as TEN Telecom or trans-European telecommunications networks) was initially set up to support the interconnection of telecommunications infrastructure networks, and later in the area of establishment and development of interoperable services and applications and access to them.


The objectives of eTen are as follows:

  • facilitating the transition to the information society, while providing experience on the effects of the deployment of new networks and applications on social activities;
  • improving the competitiveness of Community firms, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • strengthening economic and social cohesion, taking into account in particular the need to link island, land-locked and peripheral regions to the central regions of the Community;
  • accelerating the development of new growth-area activities leading to job creation.

Lines of action

To achieve these objectives, the programme supports the following broad lines of measures:

  • action aimed at increasing the awareness of individuals, economic operators and administrations of the benefits they can derive from the new advanced trans-European telecommunications services and applications;
  • action aimed at stimulating combined initiatives by users and providers to launch projects in the sphere of trans-European telecommunications networks;
  • aid to encourage public/private collaboration, in particular through partnerships;
  • stimulation of the supply and use of services and applications intended for small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • promotion of the interconnectivity of networks, and the interoperability * of broadband services and applications.

Projects of common interest supported

Support is granted to projects of common interest identified by the programme. These projects are in six thematic areas focusing on services for the general public:

  • on-line governmental services (“e-government”);
  • on-line health services (“e-health”);
  • encouraging the participation of older people and people with disabilities in the information society (“e-inclusion” *);
  • on-line learning (“e-learning”);
  • increasing user confidence and the security of the services available;
  • facilitating the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the e-economy.

Specific features of the programme

What distinguishes TEN-Telecom from other information society actions is its “preparation for roll-out” approach by supporting as a matter of priority, the phase involving the technical and economic feasibility of a project, and the phases involving the validation * and trans-national deployment * of a service. The validation phase is the critical point in a project since it involves the validation of assumptions made in terms of operational costs, potential income, savings and public benefit. The eTen Programme thus funds projects by helping them to move on from a business case (a good service idea) to the business plan (designed to put the idea into practice).


Consortia of a minimum of two legal entities from two different Member States from the enlarged EU can seek funding. The ideal consortium for a project funded by eTen includes all the players in the project’s value chain * that will be necessary for implementing the service, its set-up, deployment and operation.

Award criteria

Funding can only be granted if the project satisfies various criteria, including the following:

  • the proposed service must be based on a mature technology;
  • the project must be innovative and clearly involve problems such that it cannot be financed with private funds;
  • the service must be trans-European *;
  • the service must be in the common interest *.

The decision to grant Community assistance must also take into account:

  • the knock-on effect that Community assistance will have on public and private funding;
  • the soundness of the financial package;
  • the direct or indirect socio-economic effects, in particular on employment;
  • the environmental impact.


The level of support depends on the type of project. The programme can cover:
– up to 50 % of the costs of market validation for a project which has succeeded in demonstrating its technical and economic feasibility and benefit to end-users;
– up to 10 % until 2005 and up to 30 % since 2006 of the costs of initial deployment of the project, i.e. the launch costs.


The programme operates by means of calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The eTen programme generally launches calls for proposals once or twice a year. Each call refers to specific areas. The European Commission then selects the projects with the support of a committee of experts from the Member States.

Links with other Community programmes

eTen is coordinated with other Community programmes, in particular the information society technologies research programme (ISP Programme) and the programme for the electronic interchange of data between administrations (IDA). The Structural Funds’ programmes contain various measures targeted on the applications covered by the eTen work programme and the eEurope 2005 action plan assigns them a special role as regards high-speed access in the less-favoured regions.

Key terms used in the act
  • Value chain: this includes all participants involved in the deployment of a service, from the developers, through service and content providers, to users. It can comprise all types of entities such as commercial and public organisations, non-profit associations and citizens.
  • Deployment: the construction and operation of the application to offer the services in a real-life environment.
  • E-inclusion: e-inclusion (integration into the information society) is aimed at strengthening the European social model and addressing the specific needs of the disadvantaged, so that all citizens can benefit from the new opportunities offered by the information society. It promotes independence and accessibility for all.
  • Interoperability: the ability of two or more systems (devices, databases, services or technologies) to interact in accordance with a prescribed method.
  • Service of common interest: a service that is of widespread social or economic benefit.
  • Generic service: a conversational, messaging, retrieval or group service directly usable by a large number of users, which provides common tools for development and implementation of applications, whilst aiding their interoperability.
  • Trans-European: a project designed to satisfy needs existing in several Member States. As a general rule, projects carried out with eTen support must be carried out in several Member States, but implementation in a single Member State is allowed if the project contributes to a broader trans-European interest.
  • Market validation: all activities related to an application/service project aiming at evaluating its technical, economic and financial characteristics.


Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation 2236/1995/EC[adoption: cooperation SYN/1994/0065]


JO L 228 of 23.09.1995

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 1336/97/CE [adoption: consultation CNS/2000/0128]


JO L 183 of 11.07.1997

Regulation EC No 1655/1999/CE [adoption: co-decision COD/1998/0101]


JO L 197 of 29.07.1999

Decision 1376/2002/CE [adoption: co-decision 2001/0296/COD]


JO L 200 of 30.07.2002

Related Acts


Communication of 3 June 2008 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Final evaluation of the eTEN programme [COM(2008) 334 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission gives a positive report of the eTen programme. It has allowed considerable knowledge and best practice in terms of deployment of services to be acquired through project implementation. Synergies have been created with the European Cohesion Fund.

The final evaluation notes, moreover, the success of the programme both in project management and the fulfilment of the obectives of growth, employment, social cohesion and greater participation in the knowledge economy.

The ICT strategic component of the “Innovation and Competitiveness” programme should extend the eTen programme and allow its results to be exploited effectively once all projects are completed at the end of 2009.

Commission report of 10 December 2001 on the implementation of Decision No 1336/97/EC on a series of guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks [COM(2001) 742 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report evaluates the programme during the first three years of operation since the new guidelines were adopted in 1997 until June 2000. It mentions a number of factors relating to the operation of eTen, including the profile of programme participants, project results and the state of deployment of completed projects. It also notes that it is difficult to evaluate the social and societal impact of the programme because of the small number of projects completed.

The Commission also makes a number of recommendations covering future strategies for the development of the programme. These recommendations include the following:

  • increased number of deployment projects;
  • increase in the number of projects involving public administrations;
  • granting of support for the interconnection and interoperability of networks necessary for the operation of a public interest service;
  • better coordination with, in particular the other programmes operating in the field of trans-European networks, the Structural funds, the IDA programme and the Socrates programme.


Commission report – 1998 annual report pursuant to Article 16 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 of 18 September 1995 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial assistance in the field of trans-European networks [COM(1999)0410 final – Not published in the Official Journal];

Commission report of 22 September 2000 – trans-European networks – 1999 annual report pursuant to Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial assistance in the field of trans-European networks [COM(2000) 0591 final – Not published in the Official Journal];

Commission report of 1 July 2002 – trans-European networks 2000: annual report [COM(2002) 344 final – Not published in the Official Journal];

Commission report of 7 August 2002 – trans-European networks: 2001 annual report [COM(2003) 0442 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

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