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Frequently asked questions

Facts and figures on the impact of ICT on the economy?

Investment in ICT is recognised as a key factor for firms' competitiveness and for overall economic growth representing 50 % of the EU productivity growth.

The e-Business W@tch portal provides more information on the impact of ICT on the economy.

How can the European Commission help developing e-skills for young people, the workforce and citizens?

The prosperity of Europe is dependent on the availability and the effective use of ICT as well as the inventiveness, the knowledge, and the related skills and competences (e-skills) of its people. Persistent e-skills shortages and the digital divide would affect negatively economic recovery, productivity growth, competitiveness, employment and social cohesion in Europe.

To address these challenges the Commission has adopted a comprehensive long term agenda in its Communication on "e-Skills for the 21st Century". Developing e-skills involves actions, both at European and national level, in several areas: education, training, innovation, industrial and labour policies, but also in domains such as immigration, taxation and research.

The European Commission's ICT website provides more information on e-Skills.

How is the European Commission preparing for a future paperless business environment?

The dematerialisation of business documents is a crucial step towards a full integration of the entire e-supply chain and enables a significant simplification of procedures for the management of administrative and accounting documentation, which results in a drastic reduction of costs associated with traditional paper-management. Ultimately, it increases the productivity and hence the competitiveness of companies nationally and worldwide. Electronic invoices are a key element of the paperless environment. An Expert Group, set up by the Commission, will deliver by the end of 2009 a European e-invoicing framework which is to establish a common conceptual structure and propose solutions supporting the provision of e-invoicing services in an open and interoperable manner across Europe.

The European Commission's ICT website offers more information on e-Invoicing.

What can the European Commission do to help SMEs uptake new Information and Communication Technologies?

SMEs are a major source of entrepreneurial skills, innovation and creativity, and they contribute to economic and social cohesion. More recently, SMEs have been emerging as global players by participating in global production and supply chains. A crucial factor for improving the competitiveness and raise new opportunities for SMEs is their integration into global digital supply chains through the implementation of e-business practices. Nonetheless, SMEs are still struggling with the requirements of getting digitally connected with their suppliers and customers.

All Member States have been taking measures to assist their SMEs in exploring how to become innovative through the uptake of ICTs. The European Commission seeks to bring these decision makers together to exchange views and experiences on their policy initiatives and learn from each other. The ultimate objective is to coordinate national and regional policies to achieve a greater pan-European impact. This is the reason of setting-up the eBusiness Support Network for SMEs (eBSN).

On the eBSN website, you can find inspiring examples of national, regional and European e-Business policies and targeted actions to help SMEs participate in global digital supply chains.

What role does the European Commission play in standardisation?

Standardisation is a voluntary cooperation among industry, consumers, public authorities and other interested parties for the development of technical specifications. Standardisation work is market led and industry driven, and the European Commission promotes it as it can help drive the competitiveness of industry and facilitate competition for the benefit of consumers. Directive 98/34/EC and, for the ICT domain, Council Decision 87/95 lay down the principles of EU standardisation, which is based on the work of the European Standardisation Organisations (CEN, CENELEC, ETSI) and their cooperation with the international standardisation organisations.

The European Commission's ICT website offers more information on ICT Standardisation.

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