Fabian Demicoli

Digital Agenda: Scoreboard shows progress

 A Scoreboard has been published by the European Commission showing the performance of the EU and Member States in delivering on the agreed targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe after the first year of its existence. In line with its commitment to an open data strategy the European Commission has made its data sets and statistics in the Scoreboard publicly available online enabling anyone to carry out their own analysis and come to their own conclusions.

 

Overall progress over the first year of the Digital Agenda has been good, especially on the use of Internet (65% of EU population). But progress in some areas is disappointing, in particular roll-out of new super fast Broadband networks, which is one of the key Digital Agenda goals, even if there is some progress in upgrading existing cable and copper networks.

The Digital Agenda committed the EU to carry out 101 specific actions (78 for the Commission, of which 31 are legal proposals, and 23 for Member States) which will together boost investment in, and use of, digital technologies. Overall, 11 DAE actions have been completed, 6 actions due in 2010 are delayed and the remaining actions are largely on track.

The Scoreboard shows good progress in:

Regular Internet use. This has risen rapidly to 65% of the EU population (target 75% by 2015). Disadvantaged groups like the less well-educated and the elderly are also using the Internet more, up from 42% to 48%. This brings within reach of the 2015 goal of 60%.Non-users have fallen from 30% to 26% of the population.

Online shopping. 40% of EU citizens now shop online, including 57% of all Internet users. More than half of the population in 8 EU countries buys online.

eGovernment: 41% of citizens use eGovernment services, half of whom have return completed forms online. The eGovernment Action Plan (should help realise the 2015 target of use of eGovernment services by 50 % of citizens and 80% of businesses.

Promotion of low energy lighting: Solid State Lighting increased its market share to 6.2% in 2010 (up from 1.7% in 2009), making good progress to reducing the energy use of lighting by 20% by 2020.

Mixed progress in:

Broadband availability and take up: Basic broadband is increasingly available even in remote areas. However, deployment and uptake of very high-speed broadband is currently concentrated in only a few (mostly urban) areas. The Commission is working with Member States to implement the strategy to give every European access to basic broadband by 2013 and fast and ultra fast broadband by 2020.

Insufficient progress in:

Cross-border eCommerce: barely growing, from 8.1-8.8% in 2010. The Digital Agenda target is 20% of citizens shopping online across borders by 2015. The Commission intends to address this and other barriers to the development of the Digital Single Market in a forthcoming Communication on the eCommerce Directive

Online presence of Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): 26% of  SMEs purchase online, a rising share, but only 13% of SMEs sell online, (up 2 points on last year)

Roaming prices: they fell by 1.5 € cents in 2010, but are still more than three times as expensive as domestic calls. The Digital Agenda's aim is for thedifference between national and roamed calls within the EU to approach zero by 2015.

Public investment in ICT R&D: expenditure by public authorities did not exceed the € 5.7 billion baseline of the previous year. A 6% annual growth will be needed to reach the target of doubling to € 11 billion by 2020.

Is the Commission on target?

Overall, progress on implementing the 101 Digital Agenda actions has been quite good. Almost 10% of the actions have been completed, 80% are on track and the remaining 10% are delayed.

 

Digital Agenda: New telecoms rules benefit citizens and businesses across Europe

 

By 25th May 2011, Europeans will enjoy new rights and services regarding phones, mobile and Internet. New EU telecoms rules to ensure a more competitive telecoms sector and better services for customers are due to be implemented in national law by this date.

They include the right for customers to switch telecoms operators in just one day without changing their phone number, the right to more clarity about the services customers are offered and better protection of personal data online. The Commission has worked closely with Member States to seek swift implementation of these EU rules and will consider launching infringement proceedings against Member States which have not implemented them in time. Reinforcing the Single Market for telecoms services is a key objective of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

As of 25th May, the new EU rules give citizens and businesses:

Higher levels of consumer protection and more choice:

the ability to switch fixed or mobile phone operator without changing phone number within one working day

a maximum length of 24 months for customer's initial sign-on contracts and an obligation on operators to offer 12 month contracts. This will allow customers to switch more easily to a different operator if they find a better deal

clearer information on services to which a customer is subscribed. Consumer contracts must give information about minimum service quality levels. In particular, internet subscribers must be given information about traffic management techniques and their impact on service quality, as well as any other limitations (such as bandwidth caps, available connection speed or the blocking or 'throttling' of access to certain services such as Voice Over Internet Protocol). Contracts also must give details of compensation and refunds available if these minimum levels are not met (see IP/11/486 and MEMO/11/319).

Improved online privacy and safety:

better protection against personal data breaches and "spam" (unsolicited e-mails), mandatory notifications for personal data breaches

better information and consent requirements for storing or accessing information in users' devices (such as 'cookies' not related to the service currently accessed (see MEMO/11/320)

More consistent regulation across the EU:

national regulators will gain greater independence and will have powers, as a last resort, to oblige telecoms operators with significant market power to separate their communication networks from their service branches to ensure non-discriminatory access for other operators (without necessarily separating ownership or obliging the creation of a separate company).

the Commission, in cooperation with the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), has also been granted extra powers of oversight on the competition remedies for the telecoms markets (the so-called "Article 7 procedure"). In practice, should the Commission consider that a draft competition remedy notified by a national regulator would create a barrier to the Single Market for telecoms services, the Commission can proceed to an in-depth assessment and, in consultation with BEREC, can issue a recommendation to the national regulator to amend or withdraw its planned remedy. National regulatory authorities must take utmost account of such recommendations (see MEMO/11/321).

Other new elements in the package include better access to emergency services including 112, Europe's single emergency number.

The Commission's Recommendation indicating to national telecoms regulators how they should regulate third-party competitive access to ultra-fast fibre networks (also known as 'next generation access' – NGA – networks) (see MEMO/10/424) was introduced recently on the basis of new elements in the updated telecoms rules.

The Commission is closely following the implementation of the new telecoms rules by Member States and will use its full powers, recently enhanced by the Lisbon Treaty, to ensure full and timely implementation of the EU's updated telecoms rules in national law. To help Member States implement the new telecoms rules, the Commission has produced guidelines on various issues, such as cookies and universal service.

Background

The revised EU rules on telecoms networks and services were formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council in late 2009 (MEMO/09/491). The Parliament and Council agreed that the rules must be implemented into the national laws of the 27 Member States by 25th May 2011.

The two Directives that enter into force on 25th May 2011, the Better Regulation Directive and the Citizens' Rights Directive, amend five different existing EU Directives (Framework Directive, Access Directive, Authorisation Directive, Universal Service Directive and the e-Privacy Directive). A new Regulation setting up the European Body of Telecoms Regulators (BEREC) was also adopted. BEREC was officially established in Riga in May 2010 (IP/10/641).

Digital Agenda website:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/digital-agenda/index_en.htm

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