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Official Journal Reference

C 48 of 2003-02-28

Legislative Reference

2003/C 48/02?? of 2003-02-18
The objective of this Action Plan is to provide a favourable environment for private investment and for the creation of new jobs, to boost productivity, to modernise public services, and to give everyone the opportunity to participate in the global information society. eEurope 2005 therefore aims to stimulate secure services, applications and content based on a widely available broadband infrastructure.


The Barcelona European Council called on the Commission to draw up an eEurope action plan focussing on "the widespread availability and use of broadband networks throughout the Union by 2005 and the development of Internet protocol IPv6 .... and the security of networks and information, eGovernment, eLearning, eHealth and eBusiness"1 This action plan will succeed the eEurope 2002 action plan endorsed by the Feira European Council in June 2000. eEurope is part of the Lisbon strategy to make the European Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy with improved employment and social cohesion by 2010.
eEurope 2002, with the joint effort of all stakeholders, has already delivered major changes and has increased the number of citizens and businesses connected to the Internet. It has reshaped the regulatory environment for communications networks and services and for ecommerce and opened the door to new generations of mobile and multimedia services. It is providing opportunities for people to participate in society and helping the workforce to acquire the skills needed in a knowledge-driven economy. It is bringing computers and the Internet into schools across the Union, bringing governments on-line and focusing attention on the need to ensure a safer on-line world.

The information society has much untapped potential to improve productivity and the quality of life. This potential is growing due to the technological developments of broadband and multi-platform access, i.e. the possibility to connect to the Internet via other means than the PC, such as digital TV and 3G. These developments are opening up significant economic and social opportunities.
New services, applications and content will create new markets and provide the means to increase productivity and hence growth and employment throughout the economy. They will also provide citizens with more convenient access to information and communication tools. Most services are provided by the market. Developing new services needs significant investment, most of it from the private sector. But funding more advanced multimedia services depends on the availability of broadband for these service to run on, while funding broadband infrastructure depends on the availability of new services to use it.
Action is needed to stimulate services and infrastructure to create the dynamic where one side develops from the growth of the other. Both developing services and building infrastructures are mainly tasks for the private sector and eEurope will create a favourable environment for private investment. This means not only developing an investment friendly legal framework but also taking action that stimulates demand and so reduces uncertainty to private investors.

eEurope 2005 applies a number of measures to address both sides of the equation simultaneously. On the demand side, actions on egovernment, ehealth, elearning and ebusiness are designed to foster the development of new services. In addition to providing both better and cheaper services to citizens, public authorities can use their purchasing power to aggregate demand and provide a crucial pull for new networks. On the supply side, actions on broadband and security should advance the roll-out of infrastructure. The Lisbon strategy is not just about productivity and growth but also about employment and social cohesion. eEurope 2005 puts users at the centre. It will improve participation, open up opportunities for everyone and enhance skills. eEurope contains measures regarding einclusion in all action lines. One important tool to achieve this is to ensure multi-platform provision of services. It is generally accepted that not everyone will want to have a PC. Making sure that services, especially online public services, are available over different terminals such as TV sets or mobile phones is crucial to ensuring the inclusion of all citizens.


The action plan is structured around the following policies:
Modern online public services.
-Broadband connection.
-Interactive public services.
-Public procurement.
-Public Internet Access Points PIAPs (the PROMISE programme).
-Culture and tourism.
-Broadband connections.
-eLearning Programme.
-Virtual campuses for all students.
-University and research computer-supported co-operative system.
-Re-skilling for the knowledge society:
-Electronic health cards.
-Health information networks.
-Online health services.
A dynamic e-business environment.
_Trust and confidence.
_The ".eu company".
A secure information infrastructure.
_Cyber security task force (CSTF).
_"Culture of security".
_Secure communications between public services.
_Spectrum policy.
_Broadband access in less favoured regions.
_Reduce barriers to broadband deployment.
_Multi-platform content.
_Digital switchover.


The eEurope action plan is based on two groups of actions which reinforce each other. On the one hand, it aims to stimulate services, applications and content, covering both online public services and ebusiness; on the other hand it addresses the underlying broadband infrastructure and security matters.
The action plan comprises four separate but interlinked tools.

Firstly, policy measures to review and adapt legislation at national and European level; to ensure legislation does not unnecessarily hamper new services; to strengthen competition and interoperability; to improve access to a variety of networks; and, to demonstrate political leadership. eEurope 2005 identifies those areas where public policy can provide an added value and therefore focuses on a limited set of actions in priority areas.
Secondly, eEurope will facilitate the exchange of experience, of good practices and demonstration projects, but also of sharing the lessons from failures. Projects will be launched to accelerate the roll-out of leading edge applications and infrastructure.

Thirdly, policy measures will be monitored and better focussed by benchmarking of the progress made in achieving the objectives and of the policies in support of the objectives.

Fourthly, an overall co-ordination of existing policies will bring out synergies between proposed actions. A steering group will provide a better overview of policy developments and ensure a good information exchange between national and European policy makers and the private sector. This steering group would also make an early participation of candidate countries possible.

In order to achieve the objectives The Council agrees to:
_the comprehensive benchmarking to be carried out by the Commission according to the guidelines contained in the Annex and in cooperation with Eurostat and the National Statistics Institutes; the collection of the data will be conducted on a non-permanent basis through surveys and will not give rise to permanent statistical obligations, thus not leading to additional burdens for the private or the public sectors;
_the consistent involvement of stakeholders in the candidate countries in the benchmarking and exchange of good practice, and to consider adjustments to the Action Plan in due course to take account of their accession to the European Union;
_ the systematic exchange of good practice based on the analysis undertaken in cooperation with the Commission.

Within this scope the Council invites the Member States:
_to do their utmost, with the help of the benchmarking indicators contained in the Annex, to achieve the objectives of the Action Plan, to promote network security and broadband and to promote egovernment, ebuisness, ehealth and elearning, taking into account specific national, institutional and administrative structures;
_to work with all stakeholders to effectively implement the Action Plan;
_by mid 2003 to contribute to an overview of national measures and actions taken to achieve the eEurope objectives;
_ to nominate a high-level representative for the steering group.

The Council welcomes the intention of the Commission;
_to establish a steering group which would:
-provide a general overview of ongoing einitiatives across sectors by exchanging information on progress made and on problems encountered;
-offer a forum for strategic discussions and for exchange of experiences;
-monitor progress regarding implementation of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan with a view to formulating input and advice to relevant stakeholders on how implementation can be improved;
-contribute to the mid-term review;
-establish its own working methods;
-permit early participation of candidate countries;
_to ensure that allocated Community funds contribute to achieving the objectives of the eEurope Action Plan;
_to present a midterm review of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan in advance of the Spring European Council 2004;
_to identify, analyse and disseminate good practice in close cooperation with the Member States.
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