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The European e-Business Report
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by EU, DG Enterprise 16 the future of ICT


European policy is increasingly focussed on promoting business practices and new ways of working that will increase the competitiveness of enterprises and provide the economic and social foundation for the knowledge economy in Europe. The eEurope 2002 Action plan provided the basis for targeted actions to stimulate the use of the internet for accelerating e-commerce, acknowledging that "electronic commerce is already developing dynamically in inter-business trading []" and that "it is important for SMEs not to be left behind in this process []." The eEurope 2005 Action Plan, endorsed by the Seville European Council in June 2002, confirms and builds further upon these objectives with Action 3.1.2." A dynamic e-business environment", which defines the goal "to promote take-up of e-business with the aim of increasing the competitiveness of European enterprises and raising productivity and growth through investment in information and communication technologies, human resources (notably e-skills)and new business models".

To help policy-makers define their initiatives, and to monitor the effectiveness of these policies, some indication of progress and of areas requiring active support is essential. Despite the considerable amount of studies and market research on electronic business (and especially on electronic commerce), there used to be a lack of reliable empirical information about the extent, scope, nature of and factors affecting the speed of e-business development at the sector level in an internationally comparative framework.

Therefore the European Commission, DG Enterprise, launched in January 2002 the e-Business W@tch. During its 18-month period of operation, the e-Business W@tch has presented a set of e-Business Impact Studies for 15 sectors of the economy and carried out two representative surveys of close to 13,000 enterprises from these sectors. The conceptual framework adopted follows a concept developed by the OECD in 1999 which has been widely used in e-business statistics since. It is based on a three-part-analysis of the uptake of information and communication technologies and their application for e-business: (a)infrastructure ("readiness"), (b)activities and (c)impacts (more information available at

This is the second and Final Synthesis Report of the first period of the e-Business W@tch. The executive summary presents an assessment of the overall "e-proximity"of the 15 sectors analysed in 2002/03, using a concept similar to the "e-Business Index"of the Council Resolution on the implementation of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan.Part A summarises the statistical picture, focusing on results of the e-Business Survey 2003, and features an international e-business outlook. Part B of the report presents a synopsis of the Sector Impact Studies, focusing on the recent series of seven sector studies with 2003 data that were not included in the first Synthesis Report from March 2003. Part C adds contributions on specific electronic business issues from various authors, for example on internet trading platforms and on the challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Research presented in this report is intended to contribute in benchmarking progress and in assessing how electronic business developments can be further enhanced to strengthen the competitiveness of European businesses. Special attention is paid to the SME dimension of e-businesses, notably SMEs. The e-Business W@tch will continue its operation on similar methodological lines, focusing on the ten most interesting sectors and increasing the dialogue with industry associations and e-business stakeholders across Europe.

The full report is available: click here

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