A Community Programme
to help the roll-out of e-services across Europe
for an inclusive information society
eTEN is the European Community Programme designed to help the deployment of telecommunication networks based services (e-services) with a trans-European dimension. It focuses strongly on public services, particularly in areas where Europe has a competitive advantage. The programme aims to accelerate the take up of services to sustain the European social model of an inclusive, cohesive society. Its objectives are at the very heart of the eEurope mission of "an information society for all". It promotes public interest services which give every citizen, enterprise and administration full opportunity to gain from the e-Society, bridging the digital divide which threatens to create an information underclass in the areas of :
- eHealth and eHealthcare;
- Services for SMEs (eBusiness);
- Trust and Security services components;
You can also check eTEN's Enlargement page.
eTEN has its legal basis in the Trans-European Networks (TEN) policy, established by the European Union and governments of the member states to remove the barriers to the movement of people, goods and services across Europe in the building of the common market. This has been an evolving effort over half a century, and one which remains of the highest priority to preserve Europe’s prosperity, stability and security in the face of global challenges. The information society, based on network services which are of an increasingly commodity nature, presents many opportunities, but they are accompanied by almost as many threats. Sophisticated technology enables sophisticated services, but where the skills to access and exploit them are absent, exclusion results. The European Union is endowed with a rich heritage of nationalities, cultures and traditions. This is a great strength, but in the development of e-services, there is the danger of islands arising where language groups or national administrative borders interrupt the flow of services. It is with such challenges in mind that the Trans-European Telecommunications Networks policy has been set out.
eTEN built on the earlier EuroISDN action which aimed at technical harmonisation as a platform for services. In 1997 the first set of programme guidelines were adopted which gave the programme its current shape. The telecommunications industry and market has changed enormously in the years since then, and the programme is changing to focus its efforts where they are most needed. New guidelines are expected to be adopted in 2002 which will see much more emphasis on public services underpinning the European social model.
eTEN projects partners are organisations who intend to offer e-services. Because of this, they must have the skills and resources to carry out a project and then exploit the results. They should have the financial resources, or access to these resources, and the management skills and personnel resources to operate the proposed service. This means that a mixture of technical and operational expertise is demanded from the consortium.
In contrast with EU research programmes, eTEN is also open to proposals from single entities, provided they meet the general interest requirements, and aim to be active in several member states. New technologies need time to gain market acceptance, thus there are here opportunities for successful post-research and development projects to bring their results to the market.
eTEN supports deployment. Although not part of the research Framework Programme, eTEN is a key tool for the exploitation of successful research activities from technical development to the market. Private investors will tend to focus on sectors which show the best potential for short term profitability. There remain many areas where services are in the general societal or economic interest, but either do not promise a rapid return on investment, or bring benefits which are long term or not visible through direct financial reward to the operators. This is where Community and eTEN financial support, is justified.
What distinguishes eTEN from other Information Society actions is its "preparation for a roll-out" approach. eTEN is there to help the partners overcome their project's initial investment and launch difficulties. This reduces the commercial risk during the project's early stages, and supports the transnational implementation costs. It also helps with any organizational problems related to public/private partnerships. eTEN emphasizes public-private partnerships, which can broaden access to, and use of information and communication technologies.
eTEN provides assistance in the critical launch phase of a service, so that investors or public authorities can make informed decisions before the launch of service, based on thorough analysis of the economics involved.
eTEN can provide up to a part of the total investment required to bring a service into full operation (up to 30%). In the initial launch phase when the business or investment plan is being developed, up to 50% of the costs can be met. This first phase, when assumptions about the operating costs and the potential revenues or savings are put to the test, is vital to the successful operation of a service.
These services should have a number of beneficial socio-economic consequences for businesses and employment and should be self-sustaining in the long run without Community support. Thus, the Community funding should enable the partners to develop a convincing business case, allowing them to roll-out the operational service with their own financial resources or by seeking additional external private or public funding.
In conclusion, eTEN makes a major contribution to bringing services of societal interest from the conceptual stage into full operation.