Kroes, who has held the Commission's new 'digital agenda' portfolio for almost three months, presented a 39-page plan to boost the digital economy.
The plan aims "to put the interests of Europe's citizens and businesses at the forefront of the digital revolution and maximise the potential of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to advance job creation, sustainability and social inclusion," Kroes said in a statement.
Creating a single market for the EU's cultural content and innovations, with interoperable standards and greater network security, are also high on the Commissioner's political priorities.
A proposal on high-speed networks is expected to make an appearance soon as previous attempts failed after pressure from disgruntled lobbies (EurActiv 03/03/10).
This year, the commissioner has also vowed to tackle the bugbear of rights management in the EU by introducing a pan-European system of collecting royalties for the use of creative content like music and film.
The following is a list of further targets that were unveiled in today's plan:
- Ultra-fast broadband by 2020: 50% of European households should have subscriptions above 100Mbps (no baseline).
- Promoting eCommerce: 50% of the population should be buying online by 2015.
- Cross-border eCommerce: 20% of the population should be buying across borders online by 2015.
- Single market for telecoms services: the difference between roaming and national tariffs should approach zero by 2015.
- ICT R&D increase: Double public investment to €11 billion.
Critics say the Commission's proposal is a careful reconciliation of lobbyists and internal concerns, especially with regard to copyright, which lately has become a bone of contention between Kroes and her French colleague, Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, who is an advocate of a clampdown on copyright violations.
In the final hours, Kroes resisted pressure from Barnier to take a tough line on copyright violation, according to sources close to the Commission.
The EU executive has long been trying to write rules to prevent piracy of intellectual property and is also engaging in international trade talks to forge an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (EurActiv 22/03/10).
Drafts seen by EurActiv show that the wording on possible new laws to fight copyright violations has been watered down and that, as far as Kroes is concerned, nothing will be done before 2012.
However, Barnier - a Frenchman - has had the text of the EU's Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) on his desk for a while, with a review in mind shortly.
Kroes' decision to overrule Barnier's position has received praise but also harsh criticism from industry sources, who argue that she will do little to address Asia's dominance in ICT without stricter rules on copyright enforcement.
The paper admits that only one of the nine ICT application companies present in the Financial Times Global 500 list is European and only four of the top 54 websites visited across Europe are of European origin.
"Do we have cheap labour in Europe? No. We have intellectual capital, which if overlooked implies there is no need to protect our comparative advantage," Franciso Mingorance from the Business Software Alliance - a trade group - told EurActiv, criticising Kroes' decision.
Mingorance referred to a Chinese law which has been deemed protectionist and harmful to European innovation by the EU's ICT lobbies.
The law's provisions stipulate that in order for foreign companies to gain access to the Chinese market, at least some of a product's parts or technology should be home-grown (EurActiv 10/12/09).