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Rethinking The European ICT Agenda
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by PricewaterhouseCoopers 16 the future of ICT

Ten ICT-breakthroughs for reaching Lisbon goals

The Hague, August 2004

Management summary
Europe has set itself the highest target, it wants to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy, to have sustained and accelerated economic growth with full employment and a modernised social protection system. But everyone agrees that the Lisbon targets are still far away. Structurally, the economic growth rate and worker productivity are lower than in many comparable countries such as the USA. The key technology to stimulate growth in Europe is ICT. Although the ICT developments in the last decade have been spectacular, the potential contribution of ICT to economic growth and the quality of life is still enormous. However, it is necessary to take account of the ICT paradigm of today and proven best practices in an international setting to achieve the best results in the future.

There are several countries that are very successful with their creation and implementation of ICT. The few that were investigated in this study: Korea, India, China, USA and Japan all outperform the EU in many respects. These countries have bold initiatives and dare to improve their position in the field of ICT with proactive industrial policies.

Europe too can be successful. Present policies are very useful but not instrumental enough to enable Europe to catch up with other economic powers. We have to reconsider the present policies to identify the issues that are obstructing further progress and consider further the breakthroughs that could be achieved. In this study we have identified ten of such potential breakthroughs.

Breakthrough 1: Shift the e-Business and e-Government policy from the connectivity to taking up complex ICT applications

  • A crucial condition for more economic growth is a broad deployment and use of ICT by enterprises and public institutions. Therefore the EU needs national strategies that focus on flanking investments in skills and organizational transformation. Special attention is needed for small and medium-sized enterprises
Breakthrough 2: Standardize ICT environments in Europe to trigger and enable new business
  • Standardization is a prerequisite for a broad deployment and use of ICT, and will trigger and enable new business. Pan-European interoperable solutions for electronic authentication and electronic payments are needed to boost innovation and economic growth significantly.
Breakthrough 3: Accelerate the introduction of disruptive technologies
  • The speed with which new technologies are accepted and put to work has a serious impact on economic growth. The EU needs to play a key role by accelerating the introduction of new (disruptive) technologies like smart tags and Voice-over IP.
Breakthrough 4: Realize the vision of 'any content, anytime, anywhere, any platform'
  • Content is considered an important engine for future economic growth and employment. The EU needs to fuel this engine by realizing the vision of 'any content, anytime, anywhere, any platform' by e.g. introducting multiplatform access for content producers and new digital rights management regimes.
Breakthrough 5: Go for global platform leadership in the ICT industry
  • An excellent and competitive European ICT industry is a crucial condition for economic growth and employment. The EU needs to define a strategy towards global leadership in specific areas, for example by stimulating a (new) European standards policy (in cooperation with the market) and making an explicit choice for e.g. the future of 3G mobile telecom in Europe.
Breakthrough 6: Develop a strategic response to job migration to low-wage countries
  • Economic growth and employment can be seriously affected by the accelerated job migration to low-wage countries. The EU needs to develop a strategic response.
Breakthrough 7: Remove barriers for the development of an innovating European electronic communications sector
  • The electronic communications sector is a proven source for economic growth and employment. The EU needs to anticipate in an early stage the barriers for investments in next generation networks.
Breakthrough 8: Move to a new and flexible model of spectrum allocation
  • The spectrum is one of the major battlefields for innovation and new business. Modernization of spectrum policies will have a large economic impact. Therefore the EU urgently needs to make its rigid spectrum allocation model flexible.
Breakthrough 9: Enforce real solutions for consumer confidence and security
  • A crucial condition for a broad deployment and use of ICT by business and consumers is user confidence. Therefore the EU needs to enforce structural solutions for viruses and spam by creating liabilities, give priority to cybercrime within law enforcement and ensure the availability of critical infrastructures.
Breakthrough 10: Shift e-Inclusion policy from 'access for all' to 'skills for all'
  • A crucial step for a broad deployment and use of ICT by consumers is that Europe's e-Inclusion policy does not only focus on broadband access, but also on the skills Europeans need to participate in the information society. Therefore the EU needs to redefine the current universal service obligation and adopt strategies for improving ICT skills.

The full report is available: click here

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