Commission to launch ambitious Information Technology Programme

The Commission plans to launch, on June 1, 2005, what Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and the Media, has branded as “the first-ever Lisbon Strategy realistic action plan”. The plan, labelled “i2010”, sets out to boost at the same time the information and communication technology (ICT) and content industries, as well as the industry take-up of innovation.

The past years have been marked by a rivalry between the telecom and Internet Service Provider industries on one side and the content industries on the other side, over the protection of intellectual property rights versus the protection of the privacy of online users. 

Now, the Commission wants to break what it sees as being a block on innovation by starting an initiative to bring the two industries together at one table. 

At the same time, in the discussions on the EU budget, DG Information Society is fighting for a higher budget. 

Addressing the annual meeting of the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) in Brussels, Commissioner Reding said on Tuesday, 31 May 2005: 

"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.

ETNO  Director Michael Bartholomew said: 

“One of the main challenges of the initiative will be to develop a set of policies that continue to foster competition whilst at the same time create incentives to innovate in the networks and technologies underpinning tomorrow’s services. 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.” 

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." 


On 28 May 2002, the Commission adopted a Communication 'eEurope 2005: An information society for all', which followed up the eEurope 2002 action plan and was adopted as a Council resolution on 28 January 2003. It addresses EU policy priorities in the field of ICT, such as Broadband, Benchmarking, e-Learning, e-Government, e-Health, e-Business, e-Inclusion, Digital Rights Management and Trust. 

On 19 November 2004, the Commission adopted a communication entitled 'Challenges for Europe's Information Society beyond 2005: Starting point for a new EU strategy', in which it summed up its view of the challenges to be addressed in a European Information Society strategy up to 2010. 

On 31 January 2005, Commissioner Reding delivered a speech 'i2010: The European Commission’s new programme to boost competitiveness in the ICT sector' 

On May 16, 2005 in Cannes, France, Commissioner Reding delivered a speech “European films and the Information Society” to an informal meeting of ministers responsible for audiovisual matters, in which she addressed intellectual property rights as “the economic heart of the audiovisual industry as a creative activity”.

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