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Digital Agenda : awards for creative reuse of open data

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes awarded prizes to the winners of the Open Data Challenge and Hack4Europe! competitions at the Digital Agenda Assembly being held in Brussels on 16th and 17th June 2011. Companies, designers, programmers, developers, journalists, researchers and the general public from across Europe participated in the two open data competitions, trying out their ideas for creative reuse of information held by the public sector and open cultural data. European public bodies produce thousands of datasets every year - from how our tax money is spent to the quality of the air we breathe. This data can be reused in products such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts, and travel information apps.

 
More EU citizens benefitting from online public services

More people across the EU now have access to public services online, according to Europe's 9th e-Government Benchmark Report released today. The average availability of online public services in the EU went up from 69% to 82% from 2009 to 2010. Putting more Government services online helps cut costs for public administrations and also reduces red tape for businesses and citizens. The report reveals the best and worst performers in the EU, focusing on two essential public services: 'finding a job' and 'starting a company'.

 
ENIAC and ARTEMIS public-private partnerships delivering, but need more industry and Member State commitment

The European Commission has today endorsed a report by a panel of independent experts which calls on EU industry and Member States to reinforce their support for ARTEMIS and ENIAC, two public-private partnerships (established as Joint Undertakings) for collaborative research in the fields of nanoelectronics and embedded systems (used widely in cars, smart phones, power plants and elsewhere. The experts concluded that the current partnership model is good for industry, good for Member States, and good for Europe. However, they also found that more financial resources are needed from EU Member States and that industry needs to demonstrate a stronger commitment towards a European strategy if ARTEMIS and ENIAC are to realise their full potential.

 
Digital Agenda: eGovernment Action Plan to smooth access to public services across the EU

The European Commission has outlined an ambitious programme to work with Member States' public authorities to expand and improve the services which they offer via the Internet. The new eGovernment Action Plan foresees forty specific measures over the next five years to enable citizens and businesses to use online facilities to, for example, register a business, apply for and access social security and health benefits, enrol in a university or bid to provide goods and services for public administrations. Promoting eGovernment can help boost Europe's competitiveness and allow public authorities to offer improved services more cost-effectively at a time of budget constraints.

 
Digital Agenda: broadband speeds increasing but Europe must do more

Broadband connections in Europe are much faster than one year ago according to statistics published today by the European Commission. In July 2010 29% of EU broadband lines had speeds of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps) (up from 15% one year earlier).Broadband take up continues to grow in the EU with 25.6 subscriptions for every 100 citizens (23.9 one year earlier). Annual growth in mobile broadband is remarkable at 45%, with 6 mobile broadband dedicated access devices (usb-keys or dongles) per 100 citizens.

 
Digital Agenda: Commission outlines measures to deliver fast and ultra-fast broadband in Europe

Three complementary measures to facilitate the roll out and take up of fast and ultra-fast broadband in the EU have been adopted today by the European Commission. This package comprises a Commission Recommendation on regulated access to Next Generation Access (NGA) networks that provides regulatory certainty to telecom operators, ensuring an appropriate balance between the need to encourage investment and the need to safeguard competition, a proposal for a Decision to establish a Radio Spectrum Policy Programme to ensure, inter alia, that spectrum is available for wireless broadband and a Broadband Communication outlining how best to encourage public and private investment in high and ultra-high speed networks.

 
Telecoms: citizens and businesses pay the price for inconsistent application of EU rules

Consumers, businesses and the EU economy as a whole are denied the full economic benefits of a truly single and competitive EU-wide telecoms market because of inconsistent application of EU telecoms rules, according to the European Commission's annual report on the Single European Electronic Communications Market. Most Member States' markets have become more competitive, but remain national in dimension. Moreover, the level of competitiveness varies strongly between Member States. Although Europe's telecoms sector weathered the financial storm in 2009 (0% growth compared to a 4.2% EU-wide economic decline), consistent enforcement of existing rules and investment in innovative services hold the key to future growth.

 
European Commission calls on social networking companies to improve child safety policies

50% of European teenagers give out personal information on the web – according to an EU study – which can remain online forever and can be seen by anybody. Today, Safer Internet Day, the European Commission is passing a message to teenagers: "Think before you post!" It welcomed actions to protect children using social networking websites taken by the 20 companies who signed the Safer Social Networking Principles last year. Most of these companies have empowered minors to tackle online risks by making it easier to change privacy settings, block users or delete unwanted comments and content. Yet more needs to be done to protect children online, the Commission says. Less than half of social networking companies (40%) make profiles of under-18 users visible only to their friends by default and only one third replied to user reports asking for help.

 
Simulation technology could help prevent future financial crises

The European Commission today unveiled breakthrough research that could help economists answer questions like these by using economic simulation software. Produced by an EU-backed research project worth €2.5 million that came to a successful end today, the software applies simulation technology also used for computer generated images (CGI) in movies. It predicts the interaction between large populations of different economic actors, like households and companies, banks and borrowers or employers and job-seekers, who trade, and compete like real people. By giving each simulated agent individual and realistic behaviour and interactions that show how markets will evolve, these massive scale simulations can better test new policies tackling future societal challenges.

 
Europe's Digital Library doubles in size but also shows EU's lack of common web copyright solution

4.6 million digitised books, maps, photographs, film clips and newspapers can now be accessed by internet users on Europeana, Europe's multilingual digital library (www.europeana.eu). The collection of Europeana has more than doubled since it was launched in November 2008 (IP/08/1747). Today the European Commission, in a policy document declared as its target to bring the number of digitised objects to 10 million by 2010. The Commission also opened a public debate on the future challenges for book digitisation in Europe: the potential of the public and private sector to team up and the need to reform Europe's too fragmented copyright framework.

 
Digital economy can lift Europe out of crisis, says Commission report

The European Commission's Digital Competitiveness report published today shows that Europe's digital sector has made strong progress since 2005: 56% of Europeans now regularly use the internet, 80% of them via a high-speed connection (compared to only one third in 2004), making Europe the world leader in broadband internet. Europe is the world's first truly mobile continent with more mobile subscribers than citizens (a take up rate of 119%). Europe can advance even further as a generation of "digitally savvy" young Europeans becomes a strong market driver for growth and innovation. Building on the potential of the digital economy is essential for Europe's sustainable recovery from the economic crisis. Today the Commission has asked the public what future strategy the EU should adopt to make the digital economy run at full speed.

 
End of 'roaming rip-off': cost of texting, calling, surfing the web abroad to plummet from today thanks to EU action

As of today, sending a text message from abroad in the EU costs a maximum €0.11, almost three times cheaper than the previous EU average of €0.28 (excl. VAT). To make a roamed call in another EU country must not cost more than €0.43 per minute, and no more than €0.19 to receive a call. From today, outgoing roaming calls will be charged by the second, after the first 30 seconds, rather than by the minute, and incoming calls will be charged by the second from the first second.

 
Future of the Internet Conference

One year after the "Bled Declaration" launching a European approach to the Future of the Internet, and the conference in Bled establishing the Future Internet Assembly, this event aims to review the strategic orientations and trends governing the future societal and economic developments of on-line Internet and Mobile societies. The conference features a wide range of European and international speakers. In a follow-on workshop, it will also bring together more than 90 EU research projects and national initiatives that are instrumental in defining the Future of the Internet.

 
Science beyond fiction: Europe unveils strategy to become a global leader in high-risk IT research

Unlimited computing power, computers mimicking the brain, mind-controlled wheelchairs and friendly robotic companions are part of a new European plan to boost visionary research, unveiled by the European Commission today. With more investment and cooperation in high-risk research on future information technologies, Europe can lead the way in turning bright research ideas into future technologies. The Commission today proposed to boost Europe's high-risk research into future technologies by doubling research investment at national and EU level in this area by 2015. The Commission will lead by example, increasing the current funding of € 100 million per year by 70% by 2013.

 
Mobile use up, consumer prices down: Europe's telecoms sector weathering economic downturn, says Commission report

Europe leads the world in mobile phone services with the number of subscriptions in 2008 at 119% of the EU population (up 7 percentage points from 2007), well ahead of the US (87%) and Japan (84%). This is a finding of today's Commission progress report on the single telecoms market. Despite the economic crisis, the EU's telecoms sector (worth about 3% of EU GDP) continued to grow in 2008 with revenues estimated at above €300 billion, up 1.3% compared to 2007 and outperforming the rest of the economy (up by 1% only).

 
Now Online: "Europeana", Europe's Digital Library

Europeana, Europe’s multimedia online library opens to the public today. At www.europeana.eu, Internet users around the world can now access more than two million books, maps, recordings, photographs, archival documents, paintings and films from national libraries and cultural institutions of the EU's 27 Member States. Europeana opens up new ways of exploring Europe’s heritage: anyone interested in literature, art, science, politics, history, architecture, music or cinema will have free and fast access to Europe's greatest collections and masterpieces in a single virtual library through a web portal available in all EU languages. But this is just the beginning. In 2010, Europeana will give access to millions of items representing Europe's rich cultural diversity and will have interactive zones such as communities for special interests. Between 2009 and 2011, some €2 million per year of EU funding will be dedicated to this. The Commission also plans to involve the private sector in the further expansion of Europe's digital library. In September 2007, the European Parliament supported, in a resolution voted by an overwhelming majority, the creation of a European digital library.

 
"Texting without borders": Commission plans ending roaming rip-offs for text messages abroad

The 2.5 billion text messages sent every year by roaming customers in the EU cost over 10 times more than domestic short messages (SMS), show figures released today by the European Commission. The average cost of a roaming text message in the EU between October 2007 and March 2008 was €0.29 according to the European Regulators’ Group (ERG), but can be as high as €0.80 for travellers from Belgium. Calls on the industry for self-regulation and voluntary reductions of roaming prices for text messages have not been answered. The Commission will therefore start working on measures to ensure that consumers benefit from a truly single market for mobile text services. The Commission will also seek to put an end to "bill shocks" that can hit roaming customers using a mobile connection to surf the Internet. New measures could be proposed by the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council in early autumn.