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eEurope Initiative

The eEurope initiative was launched in 2000 by the European Commission in order to accelerate Europe’s transition towards a knowledge-based economy, as well as to realize the potential benefits of increased growth, more jobs and better access for citizens to the services of the information age.

Introducing the Initiative

According to the European Union,

“eEurope is a political initiative to ensure the European Union fully benefits for generations to come from the changes the Information Society is bringing. These changes, the most significant since the Industrial Revolution, are far-reaching and global. They are not just about technology: they affect everyone, everywhere.”

In order to fulfill its eEurope commitments, the European Commission has held two eEurope conferences: eEurope 2002 and eEurope 2005.

eEurope 2002

eEurope 2002 was a conference held in Lisbon on March 23-24, 2000, during which European Heads of Government and State of the EU-15 set the goal for Europe to become, “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world.” The result of the conference was the eEurope 2002 Action Plan.

eEurope 2005

During a meeting in Barcelona, the EU Heads of State requested the European Commission to develop a comprehensive eEurope Action Plan for 2005, which would be presented at the European Council meeting in Seville in June 2002.

In May 2002, the Commission proposed the 2005 Action Plan, which outlined five core priorities that Member State governments should take to further the foundational eEurope objectives.

eEurope Objectives & Barriers

As an initiative aimed to integrate, rather than to fragment European society, the eEurope program is guided by the following key objectives:

  • To bring every citizen, home and school, every business and administration into the digital age and online;
  • To create a digitally literate Europe, supported by an entrepreneurial culture ready to finance and develop new ideas;
  • To ensure the whole process is socially inclusive, builds consumer trust and strengthens social cohesion.

During a conference held March 23-24, 2000, the Special European Council of Lisbon identified a number of obstacles to achieving these objectives. These ‘handicaps’ were described as follows:

  • Generally expensive, insecure and slow access to the internet and e-commerce.
  • An insufficient digitally literate online population.
  • Lack of a sufficiently dynamic, entrepreneurial, service-oriented culture
  • A public sector which is not playing a sufficiently active role in enabling the development of new applications and services.

Moving Past the Obstacles

In order to address these obstacles, the Special Council identified a number of actions that could be taken. They are as follows:

  1. Bring European youth into the digital age – The Council recommended that efforts for young Europeans be concentrated on the following main areas: a) Mastering use of the internet and multimedia resources; b) Use of these new resources to learn and acquire new skills; and c) Acquire key skills, such as collaborative working, creativity, multidisciplinarity, adaptiveness, intercultural communication and problem-solving.
  2. Cheaper internet access – The Council pointed out that liberalization of the market for telecommunications infrastructures and services in the EU resulted in falling prices, thus increasing consumer choice. However, truly pan-European services were for the most part, underdeveloped, in part due to different and perhaps excessive licensing conditions and procedures.
  3. Accelerate e-commerce – It was recommended that Europe accelerated the growth of e-commerce, particularly for SMEs, so that all of the European market could be included. In order to do so, they needed to develop a more reliable internal market legal framework, which would provide legal security, remove barriers to cross-border services, and encourage online innovation and consumer trust.
  4. Faster internet for researchers and students – At the time of the conference, online collaboration was not yet an established practice in Europe. The Council encouraged interactive networking to develop eEducation, in which students would be able to access a host of academic and research material and facilities online.
  5. Smart cards for secure electronic access – It was recognized that smart cards could offer a simple way to access health services, electronic payment, mobile internet, public transport, and other applications. This also presents a variety of new opportunities for consumers and businesses in the future.
  6. Risk capital for high-tech SMEs – It was pointed out that Europe still placed too many barriers which discouraged risk-taking, especially compared to the US, in which the entrepreneurial culture was more conducive to risk taking, and where early-stage capital for high growth innovative companies was three to four times higher than in the EU.
  7. eParticipation for the disabled – Development of digital technologies offer a wide range of opportunities for people with disabilities to overcome barriers (i.e. socio-economic, geographical, cultural, time, etc.).
  8. Healthcare online – At the time, only 1% of the total health spending in the EU was used on information technology. Digital technologies can improve both the productivity and scope of health care.
  9. Intelligent transport – Digital technologies can make transport safer, as well as enhance the quality of public transport, especially in large cities. Effective traffic management and information services can and has already reduced pollutant emissions, fuel consumption and journey time.
  10. Government online – Online access to government services present the following benefits: a) Bring government services closer to the citizen; b) Reduce government expenditure by cutting bureaucracy and red tape; c) Create jobs in value-added service providers; d) Create better Europe-wide market information.

Summary

This article introduces the eEurope Initiative, which was launched by the European Commission in 2000. The initiative consisted of the eEurope 2002 Action Plan and the eEurope 2005 Action Plan. The article introduces the key objectives as well as the main obstacles to success.

CIPP Exam Preparation

In preparation for the Certified Information Privacy Professional/Europe (CIPP/E) exam, a privacy professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:

  • European Commission (I.B.d.)
  • Appropriate technical and organizational measures (II.G.a.)
  • Internet technology and communications (III.D.)
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