Brussels, 10 Dec 2004
The importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) must be recognised in the coming proposal for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), says the European Telecommunications Council.
The EU Telecom Council, which met in Brussels on 9 December, called on Member States and the Commission to create a favourable scientific, financial and entrepreneurial environment to reinforce European excellence in research and development (R&D) in the ICT sector. The effective take up of new e-business processes and the adoption of new business models, especially within SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) must be encouraged to exploit the potential of ICT, ministers added.
'The ICT sector is a major economic sector in its own right, including information technology, electronic communications and audio-visual industries, with considerable potential for future growth and having impact on nearly all other economic activities,' states the Council in its resolution on the future ICT agenda for Europe, adopted on 9 December.
Acknowledging that the EU would benefit from an innovative and competitive ICT sector in rapidly expanding and increasingly competitive global markets, the Council called for a continued investment 'in a solid R&D area for ICT, both in the public and the private sector.'
The Council also called for a 'supportive environment, which stimulates the free movement of knowledge and innovation and where research results are translated into value-added applications and products.'
On the subject of ICT for citizens and ICT skills, the Council reaffirmed its commitment to turn the digital divide into digital opportunities for all by encouraging the continuous improvement of user-friendly technologies, as well as measures such as e-learning.
The Council also emphasised the need to further integrate ICT in the workplace to raise productivity and quality of work.
Turning to e-health and e-government applications, the Council called for the standardisation of processes at EU level to ensure inter-operability.
The Council resolution, which is a contribution to the preparation of the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy to be held during the 2005 Spring Council, concluded by inviting Member States and the Commission to contribute to a new agenda for 'the information society towards 2010'.
During the meeting, EU ministers also discussed preparation of the World Summit of Information Technologies (WSIS), to take place in Tunis from 16 to 18 November 2005. They identified a number of priorities, namely, e-Inclusion, e-Government, e-Learning, e-Health and e-Business. Furthermore, ministers gave particular attention to the broad use of results of R&D, including innovation for development and extension of communication and research infrastructures to global partners.
Special attention should be given to the research dimension of the information society, concluded the Council. To read Council conclusions in full, please visit: http:///ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pr essData/en/trans/83037.pdf
To follow the debate on the future of EU research policy, please visit: http:///www.cordis.lu/era/fp7.htm