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The aim of this Action Plan is to ensure that the targets set by the Lisbon European Council are reached by defining the necessary measures. eEurope initially identified 10 areas where actions at European level would add value. For this Action Plan, the key target areas have been revised in the light of the Lisbon European Council conclusions and the numerous reactions received, as a result, the actions are clustered around three main objectives:
_A cheaper, faster, secure Internet;
_Investing in people and skills;
_Stimulate the use of the Internet.


The European Council held in Lisbon on 23/24 March 2000 set the ambitious objective for Europe to become the most competitive and dynamic economy in the world. It recognised an urgent need for Europe to quickly exploit the opportunities of the new economy and in particular the Internet. To achieve this, the Heads of State and Government invited the Council and the Commission to draw up "...a comprehensive eEurope Action Plan .... using an open method of co-ordination based on the benchmarking of national initiatives, combined with the Commission's recent eEurope initiative as well as its Communication 'Strategies for jobs in the Information Society'. " The eEurope initiative was launched by the European Commission in December 1999 with the objective to bring Europe on-line. Complementary to eEurope, the Commission also presented a Communication on "Job Strategies in the Information Society" in January 2002. The Broad Economic Policy Guidelines provide the economic policy context, stressing the need for well functioning capital markets and more competition in product markets in order to foster innovation. Following a positive reception for eEurope from Member States, the European Parliament and key actors the Commission submitted a Progress Report to the Lisbon European Council of March 2000. At this Summit, the Heads of State and Government committed themselves to a number of measures, including target dates, to bring eEurope forward. In response to this endorsement the Commission adopted a draft Action Plan on 24th May 2000. This draft has been discussed with Member States, with a view to agreement by the Feira European Council on 19/20th June.


_A cheaper, faster, secure Internet
-Cheaper and faster Internet access
-Faster Internet for researchers and students
-Secure networks and smart cards

_Investing in people and skills
-European youth into the digital age
-Working in the knowledge-based economy
-Participation for all in the knowledge-based economy

_Stimulate the use of the Internet
-Accelerating e-commerce
-Government online: electronic access to public services
-Health online
-European digital content for global networks
-Intelligent transport systems


This Action Plan focuses on precisely identifiable actions. The analysis of the development of the 'new economy' and its impact, detailed in the previous documents and largely confirmed by the Lisbon European Council, is taken as given. The Action Plan is focused on solutions and concentrates on what should be done, by whom and when. There are three main methods by which the eEurope targets will be achieved:
_Accelerating the setting up of an appropriate legal environment - On a European level, a range of legislative proposals is being prepared and discussed. eEurope aims to speed up their adoption through setting tight deadlines for all the actors.
_Supporting new infrastructure and services across Europe - Developments here depend mainly on private sector funding. Such activity may be supported with European funding, but much depends on action by Member States. This action should, of course, not compromise budgetary discipline.
_Applying the open method of co-ordination and benchmarking - This aims to ensure that actions are carried out efficiently, have the intended impact and achieve the required high profile in all Member States. This process will be fully co-ordinated with the general benchmarking linked to the special European Council each spring.
With regard to benchmarking, a limited number of targeted eEurope benchmarks will be defined by the European Commission and the Member States before the end of 2000. Data collection will be a crucial task. There are several ongoing statistical data gathering initiatives at national and international level related to the new knowledge based economy. Data from Eurostat and Member States' statistical offices will be used where available. Industry associations and private consultants also produce statistics related to the new economy. However, these statistics do not cover all relevant indicators, it is sometimes difficult to assess their quality and they are not always comparable. In such cases, specific surveys or studies will be used to supplement the data. The results of this data gathering and the monitoring of the specific targets of eEurope will be presented on the eEurope web page.

The need to undertake urgent actions against tight deadlines in critical areas for the new economy is one of the key driving forces of the eEurope initiative. The approach of this Action Plan is to focus on such actions and thus ensure the quick removal of the remaining barriers. This is why the Action Plan focuses on a key date - 2002 - by which all of the targets should be achieved. If Europe cannot ensure change quickly it will be too late to achieve the ambitious Lisbon objectives.
The new economy is a global development and, in particular, the Internet by its nature is multi-jurisdictional, since its content and services are globally accessible. Although eEurope does not, in itself, contain specific actions in the international field, it will have implications for the Union's external policy. This is already visible in the decision of the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) during a recent conference in Warsaw to establish a work programme for actions in the areas of eEurope by the end of 2000. The eEurope initiative should also become part of the enlargement process of the Union.
The eEurope targets can only be achieved if Member States, the European Parliament and the European Commission are ready to commit themselves to this Action Plan and to the reassessment of priorities which it will imply. None can afford to relax, no matter how advanced they may be relative to others. A 'two speed eEurope' must be avoided. Each Member State must be ready to set new priorities, to provide adequate funding and to remove obstacles to achieve the targets. Each will have to draw the attention of citizens to the emerging possibilities of digital technologies to help to ensure a truly inclusive information society. Only through positive action now can info-exclusion be avoided at European level.


In June 2000 the eEurope 2002 Action Plan was adopted by the Feira European Council.
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