Information Society Policies > Overview
Information Society Policies at a Glance
The Information Society will affect most aspects of our lives, so European policies range from the regulation of entire industrial sectors to the protection of each individual's privacy.
The policies are grouped as follows - you can also jump straight to the relevant sites using the tabs below:
- Regulating the Market: Europe's Information Society has grown partly due to European initiatives such as the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, the Single Market, the Television Without Frontiers Directive, the GSM standard ... more
- Stimulating the Information Society: rolling out new technologies, products and services is not just a matter of research and development - policies are required to overcome obstacles ranging from copyright to security ... more
- Exploiting the Benefits: ensuring that Europe exploits the possibilities offered by the Information Society in areas as diverse as health, safety and education ... more
Today, Europe's Information Society policies are brought together under the i2010 Initiative: the EU framework for addressing the main challenges and developments in the information society and media sectors in the years up to 2010. The initiative promotes an open and competitive digital economy, research into information and communication technologies, as well as their application to improve social inclusion, public services and quality of life.
The EU's international Information Society policies span all of these areas, and so are set out in the International Relations site.
As all policies are interrelated, of course, some may appear in more than one section. An A-Z list of all EU Information Society policies, finally, is also available.
- Regulating Markets
- Stimulating the IS
- Exploiting the Benefits
Europe's Information Society has grown partly due to European initiatives such as the creation of the Single Market, the adoption of harmonised standards and telecommunications liberalisation. Under i2010's Single European Information Space pillar, the Commission combines regulatory and other instruments to create a modern, market-oriented regulatory framework for the digital economy.
Read the Regulating Markets Overview, or jump straight to the following sites:
Transmission: Regulating the Networks
- Electronic Communications regulatory framework stimulates competition and creates growth in the communications sector, while safeguarding public and user interests
- Mobile Roaming Charges: a new regulation to limit the costs of mobile calls abroad;
- Radio Spectrum policy manages the use of radio spectrum, through which all wireless communications - and much else besides - travel;
- 112 - a single emergency number for Europe: used, in particular, by eCall - when your car calls for help after an accident (read the eCall press pack)
- 116000 - the single EU hotline number for missing children - read the press release
- RTTE: regulating the telecommunications equipment market;
- Preventing health-related effects of Electromagnetic Fields and ensuring setting minimum safety and health requirements for work with Visual Display Units
Content: Regulating what flows through them
- Audiovisual regulation:
- The TV Without Frontiers Directive ensures free provision of services and protects the public interest.
- It is being modernised: the Audiovisual Media Services Directive will reflect the latest technological developments;
- See also: facilitating cross border transmission via satellite and cable
- Copyright and related rights in the Information Society: adapting legislation on copyright and related rights to reflect the digitisation of content, and supporting the use of Digital Rights Management technologies
- Web Accessibility: everyone must be able to access websites, regardless of any physical disabilities.
Policies to stimulate the sector range from helping European industry develop new products and technologies to stimulating the appearance of new services. Under i2010's Investment and Innovation in Research pillar, the Commission is focusing both on the EU’s research and development instruments and setting priorities for cooperation with the private sector to promote innovation and technological leadership.
Read the Stimulating the Information Society Overview, or jump straight to the following sites:
- Research: Europe must master these increasingly complex technologies, so the EU is both funding cross-EC research to pool Europe’s research resources and helping forge a common European strategy towards ICT research - see the Research & Innovation Theme for more details.
- Europe's electronic communications regulatory framework stimulates the development of Europe's infrastructure by promoting competition and growth - see Policies > Regulating Markets;
- Bridging the Broadband Gap: Ensuring all regions of Europe benefit from Broadband internet access
- Space policy: the Information Society is a major user of space-based applications;
- Content & Services: Stimulating the sector is also a question
of stimulating the supply of content and services which make the
Information Society valuable:
- Cultural Heritage: Europe's cultural heritage is a potentially massive source of content. Digitising it would both stimulate the development of the Information Society and make this unique cultural heritage available to more people. See the Digital Libraries Initiative and the Lund Principles and Action Plan.
- Secure European Information Society Strategy: the Information Society cannot grow to its full potential unless users, companies and governments enjoy reliable networks; high levels of protection for personal data and from malicious attacks.
- RFID: a wide-ranging public debate on the opportunities and challenges posed by Radio Frequency Identification technology is underway;
- Public Sector Information: stimulating the development of advanced services based on publicly created information;
- VAT on electronic services cover VAT arrangements applicable to radio and television broadcasting services and certain electronically supplied services;
- Exploiting the Benefits
A range of policies also aim to ensure that Europe exploits the possibilities offered by the Information Society, improving both public and private services for all Europeans. Under i2010's Inclusion, better public services and quality of life pillar, the Commission is developing an inclusive European Information Society, supported by efficient and user-friendly ICT enabled public services.
Read the Exploiting the Benefits Overview, or jump straight to the following sites:
- Public Services:
- eGovernment Action Plan (April 2006): outlining how "hundreds of billions of euros could be saved for European taxpayers every year";
- Electronic Public Procurement legal framework: accelerating the use of ICTs to improve efficiencies in public procurement, which accounts for 16% of the EU economy;
- eHealth Action Plan (April 2004) sets out how ICTs can be used to deliver better quality health care. It is being followed by a Recommendation on eHealth interoperability and an i2010 Flagship on ICTs for independent living in an ageing society.
- eLearning: the third eLearning conference was held in July 2006;
- Electronic Customs: the Commission's electronic customs project will create a more efficient and modern customs environment.
- Society & Environment
- eInclusion: the Ministerial Declaration on eInclusion (pdf) was adopted at ICT for an Inclusive Society (June 2006). The Commission also wants to encourage more women to pursue an IT career.
- Environment: an i2010 Flagship on ICTs for Sustainable Growth is currently under preparation;
- Road Safety: the i2010 Flagship on Intelligent Cars tackles transport-related societal problems and accelerating the deployment of intelligent vehicle systems, building on the eSafety Initiative.
- eBusiness and eCommerce: a range of policies aim to stimulate the
growth of eBusiness and eCommerce:
- .eu domain: translating the European Single Market online;
- ICT Industries and eBusiness: enhancing the competitiveness of the ICT sector, and facilitating the efficient uptake of ICT for European enterprises.
- Consumer policy and e-commerce: improving consumer confidence in the internal market when it comes to eBusiness;
- Online Financial Services: enabling consumers and retail investors to access on-line financial services from across the EU while being fully protected
- e-Invoicing Rules require Member States to recognise the validity of electronic invoices and allow cross-border electronic invoicing and electronic storage;
- VAT on electronic services cover VAT arrangements applicable to broadcasting services and certain electronically supplied services;
- more: see the eBusiness theme
- Public Services:
Last Updated March 2007