Communications Networks, Content and Technology
European Commission Directorate General

What we do

What we do

DG Connect priorities

Since 2012 DG Connect has translated the College’s political objectives into operational activities through a structured process of prioritisation.  DG Connect currently has a set of 88 operational  priorities  which cover the activities of its 46 units.  

We publish them here on our website so that all stakeholders can further reinforce the evidence base for our work and so that our overall activities are fully accountable to all interested parties.  
The priorities set for each unit its goals, inputs and outputs as well as the impacts we seek. These priorities are explicitly mapped against the College top level goals, currently Europe 2020 and the Digital Agenda.  This way, the work of the DG can be mapped against political objectives.  Progress on each priority can be measured via indicators which draw on reliable data, and the work of the DG can be tracked over time.
We define as unit priorities the main DG work which consumes the time of 85% of available staff, with 15% allocated to ensure collaboration between units, take initiatives and meet unforeseen needs.  This allows senior management to ensure efficiency, to avoid overload and to experiment.

The “lead indicator” that accompanies each of the priority fiches was selected to illustrate one important aspect of the results we are committed to achieve. One single indicator cannot cover all the multiple facets of European policies; it is natural that some dimensions are not sufficiently represented. When selecting the lead indicators, we privileged variables from official statistics, collected by Commission services or produced by reliable sources.
In some areas, the underlying evidence base does not yet offer suitable performance indicators. In these cases, plans have been launched to produce the key data for monitoring the results of our initiatives. The lead indicators in the DG's priorities reflect a certain level of diversity: when tracking results of the public intervention, there is always a trade-off between the short term direct effects – easier to measure but more technical - and the longer term indirect effects – of wider interest.  

How does Digital change challenge Europe?

ICT has been instrumental in radically transforming ourselves and the planet with unprecedented rapidity, scope and levels of disruption. Science, society and ICT are therefore intimately connected, and the pace of technological progress this century will be unprecedented. At human level, the very sense of who we are seems (at least to us today) to be profoundly challenged.  More visible in today's debate has been the economic potential and disruptive impact of digital change.  We also need to ensure, within the range of possible right answers, that Europe remains strong and autonomous in the global Internet economy.

How can we help Europeans respond?

We believe there are many things to be done to better serve citizens in this period of challenge. It all starts with learning and inclusion. The faster the world evolves, the better our education must be: from kindergarten upwards and throughout our lives. Both digital learning and digital solutions must be accessible to all: a long standing goal, but not yet a reality, since at least one in four citizens across Europe are not yet regular, self-confident Internet users.

How must we change in response?

The Commission is committed to be open, coherent, accountable, effective and participative. We believe that in the digital age this is now easier.  It is certainly easier to use digital techniques both for two-way communication and for collaborative delivery. In addition, in an age of rapid change, it is more important to be open to innovation and open to the use of soft as well as hard law.

How can innovation help?

The H2020 programme is different from the 7 previous framework programmes for research, because it focusses for the first time on innovation and not on only research and development. This signifies a move closer to the deployment of technologies, without abandoning at all the commitment to high-end and blue sky research into curiosity driven and speculative realms of endeavour as well as structured but long-term projects as challenging as J.F. Kennedy's man on the moon.

Innovation depends more for success on what happens in society.  Society must encourage entrepreneurship as a value, welcome risk taking rather than stigmatise failure, provide a funding and tax framework that drives capital into start-ups and growth enterprises. Nurture a regulatory and social environment where responsible innovation can be tested and adjusted and thrive.

How can innovation help?

How can we contribute to a framework for success?

We lead in providing essential foundations for any European digital success.  This includes delivering higher speed connectivity across Europe.  Research as well as the enforcement aspects of cyber security are also crucial.  In addition, we have some responsibility for "digital service infrastructures", to enable such EU-wide activities as procurement or patient treatment.  We also regulate media broadcast services and advertising. Finally, we include among the framework issues the continued development of an open knowledge culture for both science and government data, media pluralism  and Internet governance at the global level.

How does DG Connect work?

The financial assets under our responsibility, whether directly as the accounting officer or indirectly for expenditure through executive agencies, will amount in 2014 to 1.6 billion euros. This is  16/17% of the overall budget of Horizon 2020. With the shift to decentralised financial expenditure under H2020, and the ongoing reduction in total Commission headcount, the DG's size is changing fairly rapidly: from 1266 in 2012 to a forecast 1107 at the end of 2015.

DG CONNECT sees itself as a pioneer in several aspects of administrative culture and has innovated by:

- co-creating with stakeholder input both the evidence base for our priority actions and the key performance indicators we attach to them;

- using collaborative techniques to develop the future vision for our sector.

- using modern communication techniques, notably social media, in communicating our policies.

- we believe in "going local" to ensure that at least one member of senior management is a contact point on all CONNECT policies with each Member State

- Internally, too, we use novel platforms for cooperation