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Regional and bilateral relations focus on market access for European companies and on promoting a sound and transparent regulatory environment in all parts of the world that is as closely aligned to the European model as possible.

Regional and bilateral relations aim to achieve a global environment with fair and transparent rules for telecommunication regulation and where ICT companies can compete on a level playing field.
The Commission seeks to promote a regulatory system that is close to and/or compatible with the EU legal framework, (act as first port of call for European ICT industry, promote cooperation between the EU and third countries in the area of research and innovation in ICT.

In order to maintain and further develop regional and bilateral relations, Policy Dialogues are regularly held with EU's strategic partners, like the United States, Japan and others.

Activities and policy development in this area typically aim to:

  • strengthen the economic and industrial competitiveness of the EU ICT industry;
  • establish globally a favourable environment for European business and research with an increased focus on reciprocity;
  • improve market access conditions in the ICT sector in third countries;
  • promote the use of international standards and interoperability of technologies;
  • strengthen the EU's excellence and attractiveness in research and innovation;
  • tackle global societal challenges;
  • support the EU's external policies.

Activities are grouped according to the following geographical areas:

Activity implementation is usually carried out in close cooperation with various Commission services.

Digital for development

As part of its support to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Commission is mainstreaming the use of digital technologies and services to broaden the reach of the EU’s Development Policy. The Digital4Development approach promotes digital solutions as part of the fight against poverty and inequality. The initial focus is on Africa, where actions such as mobile payments have been shown to have the biggest impact.

On 28th November 2016, the Council adopted conclusions on this issue as follows: "Digitalisation needs to be properly mainstreamed across all policy areas, including in the EU's development and foreign policies, while addressing cyber challenges and assuring the promotion and protection of human rights, with particular attention to freedom of expression online."

On 4th May 2017, the Commission published the first Staff Working Document on Digital 4 Development, establishing 4 priorities for intervention:

  • Access to affordable digital infrastructure
  • Digital skills & literacy
  • Digital entrepreneurship; and
  • Digital as an enabler for achieving the sustainable development goals.

See the press release and follow on Twitter at #Digital4Dev and #ICT4DEV

International Cooperation in ICT Research and Innovation

Regarding cooperation with third countries in Research and Innovation, the International Unit manages a number of H2020 projects listed below.

Coordination and Support Actions (CSAs)

EPIC Singapore, Australia & New Zealand
IST-Africa Africa
Team responsible
Friday, 16 May, 2014
Last update: 
Friday, 19 May, 2017