2.10.3. Information and communication technologies
The process of innovation and profusion of new information
and communication technologies (ICTs) constitutes a radical transformation of
the means of production, distribution and exchange. It has already profoundly
affected international trade and investment, the movement of capital and labour
and work processes and products, and has accelerated the shift towards services
and their outsourcing internationally (ILO, 2006). Moreover, the speed with
which information flows from one part to another part of the world has
dramatically changed social, institutional and diplomatic relations and the
perspective of earth as a “common village” is becoming more and more real. 6 The direct employment
effects of ICTs are, on the one hand, new jobs created in producing and
delivering new products and services and on the other, the loss of jobs in
redundant technologies or in companies that fail to keep up with their
competitors’ rate of innovation. Indirect effects include the impact of
technological change on productivity, skill requirements and associated
organisational adaptation (Freeman, et al, 1995) 7.The process of structural change
driven by competition and new technologies is often described as “creative
Community policies for the digital economy have developed
rapidly over the last decade. In particular, the Europe 2005 Action Plan
targeted a dynamic e-Business environment and pursued a package of measures in
relation to e-skills, interoperability, trust & confidence, SME take-up and
regulatory reforms. The e-Europe 2005 Action Plan has now been superseded by
the i2010 strategy, which forms the information society component of the
renewed Lisbon strategy to boost European competitiveness. The i2010 programme
is a comprehensive strategy for deploying and modernising EU policy instruments
to encourage the development of the digital economy (information society and
enterprise: linking European Policies, 2006). From a business perspective, the
key measures under the i2010 programme include:
A review of e-Business policies and trends and assessment
of the need for additional policy measures to remove regulatory, organisational
and legal obstacles to the take-up of ICT and e-Business.
Review of standardisation for ICT.
Analysis of the possible application of the public
procurement directives to pre-commercial procurement and the procurement of
innovation for the uptake of R&D.
Launching of a public debate on radio frequency
identification (RFID) and issuing of policy proposals.
Adding to the initiatives under i2010 is the review of the
competitiveness of Europe’s ICT sector within the ICT Task-Force, which will
subsequently be considered by forums including the i2010 High-Level Group.
Under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), one of the main
themes has been enterprise networking. Key areas for research included: dynamic
collaborative business networks; interoperability of enterprise software,
applications and processes; new intelligent and networked products; and digital
Another key theme was the development of next generation
collaborative working environments as a basis for increasing creativity and
boosting innovation and productivity. These environments should provide
collaboration services to allow for the development of worker-centric,
flexible, scalable and adaptable tools and applications.
Projects relevant for enterprise and industry are also
found across a number of other FP6 research areas, in particular under the
a global dependability and security framework
Grid technologies, systems and services.
knowledge and content systems.
Other activities included are:
The e-Ten Programme, concerned with the large-scale
roll-out of public interest services, primarily in support of the 2010
programme initiative. Some of these services relate to access to business
information or to administrations’ interactions with business, as well as
work-related training and skills. Relevant projects are found under the e-Ten
action lines on e-Government, e-Learning, eInclusion and SME services.
E-Contentplus (2005-2008) supports the development of
multilingual content for innovative, online services across the EU. This
information can often provide a basis for new or improved e-Business services,
including applications in industry sectors. The Programme promotes leading-edge
technical solutions to improve accessibility and usability of digital material
in a multilingual environment, including pan-European services, information
infrastructures and showcases.
ICT Policy Support Programme, part of the Competitiveness
and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), will build on the e-Ten and
e-Contentplus programmes and will support the aims of i2010, the new integrated
strategy to boost Europe’s digital economy. With a budget of €728 million, it
will stimulate converging markets for electronic networks, media content and
digital technologies, test new solutions to speed up the deployment of
electronic services, and support modernisation of the European public sector.
The developments occurred in the information and
communication technologies has allowed the delivering of a number of
health-related actions and services. New health-related tools include:
Electronic health cards. Building on the agreement at the
Barcelona European Council that a European health insurance card should replace
paper based forms needed for health treatment in another Member State. The
Commission intends to support a common approach to patient identifiers and
electronic health record architecture through standardisation and supports the
exchange of good practices on possible additional functionalities, such as
medical emergency data and secure access to personal health information.
Health information networks. Member States should
develop health information networks between points of care (hospitals,
laboratories and homes) with broadband connectivity where relevant. In
parallel, the Commission intends to set up European-wide information networks
of public health data and co-ordinate actions for Europe-wide rapid reactions
to health threats.
On-line health services. Commission and Member States will
ensure that on-line health services are provided to citizens (e.g. information
on healthy living and illness prevention, electronic health records,
teleconsultation, e-reimbursement). Some of the health and related preventative
services (e.g. air and water quality on-line information) could be expanded at
trans-European level through the e-TEN programme. The Commission will monitor
actions taken by Member States to make health information as accessible as
possible to citizens as well as initiatives to implement quality criteria for
Health Telematics. The High Level Committee on Health
established a Working Group on Health Telematics to review the introduction of
information and communications technology (ICT) in the health sector, the
factors promoting or inhibiting its development, and areas where Community legislation
could be beneficial. The Group considered particular applications of ICT in
health, namely health cards, virtual hospitals and provision of health-related
information to health professionals and patients.
Activities under the Research Framework Programmes. Many of the projects
supported by DG Information Society under the EU Research Framework programmes
are of direct interest to DG Health and Consumer Protection's policy work.
Information on these can be accessed through DG Information Society’s homepage.