EU Science Hub

Digital Economy

The rapid decline in computing costs, the emergence of the Internet as a communication tool, the rapid development of the mobile internet, the proliferation of day-to-day applications, and the increasing role of internet-based social networks and commercial platforms, have greatly affected the functioning of the economy and have profoundly affected businesses, public organisations, and personal life.

Emerging digital technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and Big Data, will lead to further disruptive innovation, and create new opportunities and challenges.

Digitalisation has brought many benefits to consumers and businesses, but it has also generated new problems and policy issues. Policy makers are struggling to respond to these new challenges.

JRC is investigating how the on-going digital revolution and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) are affecting the economy and what are resulting policy issues in the following areas:

AI Watch

As part of its Digital Single Market Strategy, in April 2018, the European Commission put forward a European approach to Artificial Intelligence in its communication Artificial Intelligence for Europe”, (COM (2018) 237.

The communication is based on three pillars:

  • Being ahead of technological developments and encouraging uptake by the public and private sectors
  • Prepare for socio-economic changes brought about by AI
  • Ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework

Subsequently, on 7th December 2018, the European Commission and the Member States published a Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence”, COM(2018) 795 on the development of AI in the EU.

AI Watch will monitor and assess European AI landscapes from driving forces to technology developments, from research to market, from data ecosystems to applications.  

AI Watch will monitor the implementation of the Coordinated Plan including strategies and investment.

From these in-depth analyses, we will be able to understand better Europe’s areas of strength and areas where investment is needed to boost AI in in Europe.

AI has a wide range of potential economic and social implications including new forms of economy and governance. AI Watch will provide an independent assessment of the impacts and benefits of AI on growth, jobs, education, and society.

ICT industry and ICT R&D in Europe

ICTs underpin the development of the digital economy and make an increasingly important contribution to economic growth.  JRC analyses the supply of ICT and R&D in ICT in Europe, with comparison to major competitors worldwide, and provides a permanent monitoring of the ICT economic sector since 2006.

This research serves to assess the impact of EU policies and to guide future policy developments in the digital domain: the 3% R&D target (Lisbon Agenda and EU2020), the Digital Agenda for Europe, Member States ICT supply and R&D policies in the context of European Semester (EDPR), and more generally the European Digital Single Market (DSM).

Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Digital Economy

Digitalisation makes information and knowledge easy to store, access and modify. Digital technologies create a media and communications system that increasingly links all parts of social and economic life.

This, and the interactivity between the user and the content, facilitates the proliferation of creative re-combinations of knowledge and technologies.

The JRC is investigating the processes in which digital innovation and entrepreneurial activity take place and what framework conditions facilitate them, including the role of Intellectual Property Rights and standardisation of complex and interdependent technologies.

This research supports policy initiatives such as the Innovation Radar under H2020; Start-up Europe and the Digital Single Market.

Economics of the Digital Single Market

JRC provides economic analyses for the implementation of some aspects of the European Digital Single Market (DSM) agenda.

In particular, it does a comprehensive assessment of online platforms, it examines the economic impact of (big) data collection & analytics, EU data ownership and access regulation. Finally, JRC analyses cross-border geo-blocking in online services and digital media content, in particular audio-visual media content.

Information Infrastructures

Sharing information on environmental and social phenomena is at the heart of Digital Economy. To do so we need a framework of technologies, standards, organisational arrangements and policies that makes it possible to find, access, use, share, and publish such information, in other words we need an information infrastructure, or to be more precise we need to connect the multiple information infrastructures being developed across the world.

Such infrastructures come in multiple flavours: they include information and services for citizens and business provided by national and local governments (e-government infrastructures, and more recently open data initiatives and portals), dedicated infrastructures for scientific information and data (research e-infrastructures), and the many platforms developed by the private sector to find and share information among the public at large, including social networks like Facebook or Twitter which have become particularly popular. In Europe, the Digital Agenda is a key flagship supporting the development of these infrastructures and open data initiatives.

INSPIRE, the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe, is a legal framework that requires Member States to document and share harmonised spatial and environmental datasets and services, and establish a technical infrastructure to make it possible to discover, view, transform and download them. INSPIRE is not a centralised system but is based on the interoperability of the many national and sub-national SDIs developed and maintained by the Member States across Europe.