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News :: Results of the Workshop on 'EU Social Networks and EU R&I Programmes'

Results of the Workshop on 'EU Social Networks and EU R&I Programmes'

(11/01/2011) At the workshop on “EU Social Networks and EU R&I Programmes” (Brussels, 26 November 2010), the European Commission welcomed the public presentation of the “Group of EU Social Networks” and the constitution of the Steering Group "EU competitiveness on the web" with representatives of all web-related industry sectors under the aegis of the European Commission.

Mr. Zoran Stancic, Deputy Director General of DG INFSO, opened the Workshop saying that: "to concentrate on the business opportunities offered by social networks to all the sectors of the EU economy and how EU initiatives and programmes can help EU industry to take advantage of these opportunities." This approach paved the way to set up the steering group on "EU competitiveness on the web".

The expansion of social networks is undeniable. Throughout the world, people spend over 110 billion minutes on social networks and blog sites. This equates to 22 percent of time on line, i.e. one in every four and half minutes. The average visitor spends 66% more time on social networks sites than a year ago, almost 6 hours in April 2010 versus 3 hours, 31 minutes last year. Furthermore, social networks are likely to become the main entry point to the web in the future, prevailing over the existing search engines. The continuous increase of registered users, together with the opening of social networks to business and entertainment spheres, unlocks new opportunities to increase the competitiveness of the web-based European industry.

To respond to this major challenge, a Group of fifteen EU Social Networks, accounting for more than 200 Mio registered users, was set up and presented during the workshop “EU Social Networks and EU R&I Programmes”, which took place in Brussels under the auspices of the European Commission, DG Information Society, Networked Media Systems Unit, on November 26 2010.

At the workshop, the Social Networks presented their demands in terms of research and regulatory provisions to an audience of 130 representatives of the European ICT industry, academia and EU officials. The debate that followed provided the initial framework to identify how research and policies could meet those needs, in order to increase the competitiveness of all the European industry sectors on the web. This is one of the priorities set by the Digital Agenda for Europe, related in particular to the action 54 on "Open Platforms and Standards for New Web-based applications and services".

The EU social networks expressed their commitment to participate to the future research and innovation activities launched by the European Commission as part of the 7th Framework Programme. The involvement of this group of web entrepreneurs will bring dynamism into the EU Research & Innovation programmes. Moreover, their participation will allow web-scale research and testing of innovative technologies derived from EU Research and Innovation projects.

Another important outcome of the event was the setting up of the Steering Group on increasing the competitiveness of all EU industry sectors when doing business on the web. Its main target is to achieve a shared problem analysis of the current status about doing business on web, identifying its opportunities and bottlenecks, as well as to proposed measures to overcome those bottlenecks. This comprehensive analysis will encompass aspects related to research, technological innovation, skills, access to financing and regulations. The Steering Group is expected to issue a preliminary problem analysis by end of March 2011.

The steering group "EU competitiveness on the web" is composed of three concentric layers. The members of the core layer of the Steering Group are representatives of social networks, online mobile gaming, web-based media, web end-to-end integrators, network service providers, public services providers, manufacturing industries, EU public administrations, and services industries. The Steering Group also has a second layer of interested organisations contributing to the common endeavour. Participation to this second layer is open to all stakeholders upon declaration of interest. All the participants at the workshop volunteered to be part of the third layer of the steering group so that they will be informed about the outcomes of the steering group.


The “EU Social Networks and EU R&I Programmes” workshop responded to the following needs:

  • federate stakeholders in a promising and expanding business and research area: the web.
  • provide links between research and policy activities as part of the Digital Agenda for Europe.
  • promote the Digital Agenda for Europe action 54 to develop open platforms and standards to increase the competitiveness on the web across all EU industry sectors, not only web industry.
  • Workshop website