i2010

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The Commission’s i2010 programme aims to promote convergence in information and communication technologies by 2010, an ambition that Brussels considers vital to the overall objective of boosting innovation and jobs.

Background

  • i2010 was launched by the Commission in 2005, as a follow-up to 
  • the eEurope 2005 Action Plan, which ran out at the end of 2005.
  • and the previous eEurope 2002 Action Plan and following  
  • Commission staff working paper "Working together for growth and jobs: Next steps in implementing the revised Lisbon", which aimed at a "relaunch (of) the Lisbon strategy by refocusing on growth and employment in Europe", 
  • as well as a study commissioned by the Dutch presidency from PriceWaterhouseCoopers.  

Issues

The need for a new information society strategy arises from the Lisbon objectives and from their mid-term review, which states: “in order to ensure future economic growth, the EU needs a comprehensive and holistic strategy to spur on the growth of the ICT sector and the diffusion of ICT in all parts of the economy.”  

At the same time, i2010 seeks to react to the always greater role that information society technologies play in many peoples' lives and of the changing character of these technologies themselves. This development becomes manifest in ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence, in the mobile internet and third-generation mobile telephony, in digital TV and radio as well as in nanotechnologies. 

Some programmes, the predecessors of which were still part of the two eEurope action plans, have been unbundled and are no more part of i2010. This is the case for instance with the eContentPlus programme, which will cover the period until 2008. 

Rather than creating a large number of subprogrammes, i2010 concentrates on just a few policy priorities - the creation of a single European information space, the promotion of investment and innovation in research and of inclusion, better public services and quality of life through ICT. Following the Commisison's new approach, all legal and regulatory initiatives will be scrutinized using impact assessment and benchmarking mechanisms. 

Positions

When announcing i2010, Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding said:

"I want to start a political initiative, when the wave goes up, and that means: now. (...) I am a hands-on commissioner, and I will put all the powers in my hands together to go ahead: regulatory powers over telecommunication and the audiovisual sector, frequency management, and the portfolio of network security." 

The commissioner pointed out that she controls about one third of the EU's research budget and said: "If you invest that money in agriculture instead of ICT, well: Lisbon, bye-bye!"

The commissioner also addressed the issue of convergence and said it was a lucky choice to have put both the infrastructure and the content into one pair of hands when splitting up Commission portfolios. Addressing the telecom network operators, she said: "I am not going to let you people kill content. If infrastructure wants to sell goods and services, it needs content to be sexy." Mrs. Reding recalled the speech she had given in Cannes two weeks before and said that combating piracy was one of her top priorities.

Industry has almost unanimously welcomed the approach taken with i2010. 

ETNO  Director Michael Bartholomew said: 

“It is crucial that the i2010 initiative provides an enabling framework for a comprehensive review of the current sector specific rules in order to reflect recent and prospective market realities and to encourage further investment and innovation in next generation networks.” 

Sandro Bazzanella, Director for EU Affairs at ECTA, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association, commented: 

"Convergence will only be successful, however, if the various sectors that are converging are all competitive. Regrettably, that is far from being the case from the telecoms side where, despite the market being fully opened in 1998, effective competition is still far from sustainably established in many sectors."

Timeline

  • On 29 March 2007, the Commission published its Annual i2010 Information Society Report for 2007
  • The Council endorsed the report on 29 May 2007, asking the Commission, with a view to the 2008 mid-term review of i2010, to "develop policies regarding future trends identified" in the report, namel Next-Generation Networks (NGN), the user role, with a special view to eInclusion, and ICT's role in teh Internal Market. 
  • In the Framework of i2010, the Commission plans, before the end of 2007, three ‘quality of life’ ICT flagship initiatives and a review of the acquis communautaire affecting information society and media services. 

Further Reading

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