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How to harness digital advances in Europe's favour
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Published on 20-05-10

The European Commission has launched a key strategy – the European Digital Agenda – focusing on the challenges to Europe in a digital world. The Agenda – one of seven flagship initiatives which form the core of what President Barroso's new team will focus on – outlines the challenges and the gaps where Europe is lagging behind and identifies the necessary action to address them and using digital advances to create jobs and growth.

The Commission's proposals advocate greater use of IT in all sectors of society to build a digital single market of benefit to all of Europe's consumers and businesses.

The seven goals outlined offer pragmatic solutions including the removal of barriers to doing business across national borders. People should be able to enjoy commercial services and cultural entertainment across borders, but EU online markets are still separated bybarriers which hamper access to pan-European telecoms services, digital services and content. Today there are four times as many music downloads in the US as in the EU because of the lack of legal offers and fragmented markets.

    How to harness digital advances in Europe's favour

    To open up access to legal online content, the Commission plans to simplify copyright clearance, management and cross-border licensing.  It also wants to make electronic payments and invoicing easier and to simplify online dispute resolution.

    The strategy reinforces the EU commitments in the area of broadband access. The key target is to have internet speeds of 30 Mbps or above for all European citizens by 2020, with half European households subscribing to connections of 100Mbps or higher so the Commission wants to encourage investment in broadband and fibre-based networks

    Over half of Europeans (250 million) use the internet every day, but another 150 million (some 30 per cent) have never used it and Europe's education and training systems have not kept up with the ICT skills needed in today's digital job market. The Digital Agenda will increase and upgrade the skills of every EU citizen, irrespective of age and social background. 

    There is a need to invest in the smart use of technology and the exploitation of information to seek solutions to reduce energy consumption, support ageing citizens, empower patients and improve online access for people with disabilities. By 2015 patients could have access to their online medical records wherever they were in the EU. The Agenda will also boost energy saving ICT technologies like Solid State Lighting technology (SSL) that uses 70% less energy than standard lighting systems.

    Despite EU measures on roaming, consumers are still dissuaded from using mobile phone services abroad because of the higher prices compared to charges for the same service in their own member state, and particularly for data roaming.

    Many Europeans are wary of new technologies out of concern for privacy so to help users feel safer online, the Commission will seek tougher rules to protect personal data and improve the eYou guide - the digital guide to rights online - to make it more practical and user-friendly. The Digital Agenda will boost people's confidence to use the internet by ensuring a better coordinated European response to cyber-attacks, identity theft and spam. An EU-wide online resolution system for eCommerce transactions will also be created.

    The plan also calls for more creative use of IT solutions for issues such as climate change and population ageing. 

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    Last update: 30/10/2010  |Top