EU unveils plan to 'seize the initiative' for IT

Massive increases in budgets for IT research, as well as concrete targets on broadband access, for part of Europe's plan for economic growth over the next five years

The European Union (EU) has unveiled its plans for the future of IT, taking the wraps off how the world of technology will be governed until the next decade.

The new policy document, i2010, sets out Europe's strategy and regulatory obligations towards ICT across Europe, from encouraging innovation to reviewing the wireless spectrum.

According to the EU, the revamp of ICT is necessary to help the programme of reform ongoing in many of the European member states

The i2010 initiative is based on three key pillars: an improved regulatory framework, which will see outdated rules done away with and new regulations tailored to the digital economy; better ICT research, which will be funded by an 80 percent increase in the EU's R&D budget from 2007; and a move towards digital inclusion, which will see new tech developed, including IT designed to care for the elderly at home, a digital intelligent car and better digital libraries.

Among the more concrete aims listed in the strategy document is raising the percentage of broadband connected households to 50 percent across Europe, with a minimum speed of 3Mbps. Currently, only nine percent of Europeans access the Internet with broadband of any speed.

The EU has also publicly committed itself to raising spending in the ICT sector, which currently contributes some eight percent of European GDP.

Announcing the new action plan, Viviane Reding, member of the European Commission responsible for information society and media, highlighted the Union's drive to boost IT jobs, even if other sectors suffer as a result.

"Do we really want growth and jobs for Europe and for Europeans? In this case, there can be no doubt that we need to invest into the future of our industry. That we need to invest in ICT. Even if this means cutting back investment in other fields," she said.

Reding added that the plan was necessary for the European economy: "I am confident that industry and other stakeholders will work together with me to make i2010 a success. Because a success it must be. If Europe does not seize the initiative, others will."

The full action plan is available on the EU website.


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