Deploying Trans-European e-Services for All
eTEN is a programme providing funds to help make e-services available throughout the European Union.
Advances in technology are transforming almost every aspect of our lives. In particular, developments in telecommunications are having a profound impact. In the Information Society, businesses and governments are able to provide more and more services electronically. In turn, individuals are given greater choice and opportunity, for example to pursue computer-based learning, or to receive online health advice. Electronic services are also helping people to become more involved in their communities, for example by letting them know what’s going on in their local area.
The launch of new services like these is a major decision, requiring preparation and planning to weigh up the costs and benefits. Businesses and public authorities all want to know that their investments will reap rewards. They want to see better services resulting for the consumer and the citizen.
The success of e-services can be especially difficult to predict when they cross national borders. There may be language difficulties. There may be problems in making computer applications compatible with each other. Customer servicing, maintenance of information or physical stockpiles, delivery, marketing and promotion may also need to be adapted to local conditions.
This is where eTEN comes in.
The European Community eTEN programme (formerly TEN-Telecom) works by giving financial assistance to consortia consisting of public and private organisations, enabling them to make e-services available across the European Union. It focuses particularly on the critical validation and launch phases of a service, when assumptions about the operating costs and the potential revenues, savings and public benefits are put to the test. It can provide:
- Up to 50% of the costs of market validation for a project, showing its technical and economic feasibility and benefit to end-users
- Up to 30% of the costs of initial deployment in starting up a service.
Currently the main focuses of eTEN are applications and generic services in the areas of eGovernment, eHealth, eInclusion, eLearning and Trust and Confidence.
How eTEN works
eTEN success stories
Funding has recently been given:
- To give civil protection authorities online access to advanced satellite earth observation data, to help with flood prevention
- To enable the remote monitoring of asthma sufferers
- To provide a 24 hour home care service to elderly and disabled people through the use of call centre technology
- To make a range of services available to educational institutions in Europe, for example introducing them to European photographic heritage through the Internet
- To create an on-line dispute resolution service that will give buyers and sellers access to an out-of-court process which will be effective, transparent, independent and fair
- Proposals must be presented by a consortium comprising a minimum number of two mutually-independent legal entities, each established in a different EU Member State.
- The ideal consortium for an eTEN project includes all the players in the value chain necessary for implementing the service, its set-up, deployment and operation.
- The proposed service must be based on a proven technology platform.
- The project must be innovative, and there must be clear obstacles preventing it from being financed from private sources.
- The service must be trans-European.
- The service must be in the common interest.
How to apply
The eTEN programme works through calls for proposals that are issued generally once or twice a year. In order to help consortia to prepare a proposal, a call for proposals will normally be open for approximately 3 months. An information package will be available on the eTEN website.
A consortium may then submit a proposal for the market validation of a new service, or a request for assistance in its initial deployment.
With a proposal for market validation, it should be clear what needs to be validated, and what the criteria will be when coming to a decision about the deployment of the service. During the validation process, the Commission monitors performance of the project, periodically reviewing the results. On completion of the validation, a business plan or equivalent must be produced. This then forms the basis for the consortium to decide whether or not to go ahead with the service.
The starting point for an initial deployment project is a clear business plan (or equivalent in the public sector), and accompanying investment plan. The Community contribution is paid out in parallel with the consortium’s own investment. Because deployment projects are directly entering the market, it must be clear that competition is not at risk of being distorted.
E-services – Community vision
eTEN is the key instrument of the eEurope Action Plan 2005. The objective of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan is to give everyone the opportunity to participate in the global information society and, thereby, to provide a favourable environment for private investment and for the creation of new jobs, to boost productivity and to modernise public services.
eTEN fits into this scheme by supporting trans-European services in the common interest which might not otherwise be set up, because of difficulties at the initial investment and launch stages. It might be unclear for example whether there will be a rapid return on investment in a service.
eTEN’s aim is to enable people to participate fully in the Information Society, encouraging organisations to extend their services to groups of users who might otherwise be marginalised.
eTEN works to overcome the tendency for language groups and national administrative borders to interrupt the flow of e-services. In this, it is part of ongoing efforts to create a European single market, in which people, goods and services can move freely between EU Member States.