Knowledge Vault: EU Digital Agenda

Quick Links: Digital Single Market | Interoperability and Standards | Trust and Security | Very Fast Internet . Subscribers can read our best practice resources on the EU Digital Agenda.

Depending upon who you talk to, between 35% and 70% of UK laws originate from the European Union. The EU Digital Agenda is the European Union’s flagship policy that looks at how information and communications technology is impacting upon all parts of society, government and the economy.
For online businesses, the European Digital Single Market must work effortlessly and allow for the easy through-processing of electronic transactions across all member states.

Latest articles

Services Directive

Business Directory, E-commerce Directive, Consumer Acquis, digital agenda priorities

The EU Services Directive was introduced to remove unjustifiable or discriminatory requirements affecting the setting up or carrying on of a relevant service. A service is an economic activity normally provided for remuneration and which is not a contract for employment. Types of a service include Business services: management consultancy; professional services such as lawyers, accountants and actuaries; advertising; certification and testing; facilities management, including [...]

Consultation Response – EU Network and Information Security Directive

Cyber Warfare, network and information security

E RADAR has submitted its response to the UK Government’s consultation on the proposed EU Directive on Network and Information Security Online business is global business. The revolution of digital technologies has changed society and our economy fundamentally. The ease of accessibility and searchability of information contained in computer systems, combined with the practically unlimited [...]

Working with business and governments to ensure our online systems stay secure

what is e-business, secure systems, masterclass training, virtual working, virtual office
| Number of views :55

I have long been convinced about the many benefits of new digital services – and remain so. These are tools we all can enjoy and benefit from – more convenient, more efficient and offering a huge boost to our economy and society.

But recent allegations remind us how important privacy is. People will only use those services as much as they trust them. Trust that they or their data won’t be compromised, hacked into or spied on. Particularly if they’re sharing personal or sensitive information online.

To ensure that trust, we need networks and systems that are secure and resilient; and that calls for proper cybersecurity practice everywhere.

The fact is, too often, big ICT users like businesses or governments underestimate the risks they face. They need to not just become more aware of those risks – but to manage them. This is become truly urgent. Every week, we seem to hear about new incidents: loss of passwords, attacks on banks, hacking of websites or systems.

Technology is rapidly evolving; so are threats. A lot of businesses seem to think just using basic ICT security tools is enough – but in general it isn’t. Proper risk management practice means things like dynamically assessing and mitigating risks. It also helps to exchange information on threats and vulnerabilities – and perhaps, if there is actually an incident, to respond together. Those processes and practices need to be well-thought-through and fully embedded, not an afterthought or box-ticking exercise.

But how do we identify and embed such good practices, across the ICT value chain? We call in the experts. Our Cybersecurity Strategy, published in February, calls for a platform bringing together public and private stakeholders to do exactly that – and to ensure the kind of market where secure ICT solutions can be developed and taken up.  And that platform had its first meeting just yesterday.

Featuring top experts from a range of organisations—from national governments to ICT companies; banks to service providers—the Platform is looking at exactly these areas: like how to provide incentives to manage and measure risks; how to exchange information about risks and incidents; and input to the Research and Innovation agenda.

They have my full support. Their findings will help ICT users prepare and work together better; and they will feed into Commission Recommendations on cybersecurity due in 2014, in areas from risk management to incident reporting. Ultimately, they will build a digital Europe that is more cyber-resilient, and less prone to hacking and security breaches.

And of course, this is in parallel with legislative work we are doing on the proposed Directive on Network and Information Security: ensuring that critical infrastructure and Internet enablers stay cybersecure. So I will be working closely with the European Parliament and Council to ensure this proposal is agreed as a matter of urgency; these days, protecting our networks and systems should be every politician’s top priority.

This matters. As more and more people – and more and more core economic sectors – get connected and start relying on digital systems, ensuring security is no longer just an issue for telecoms providers: it’s also something that matters to governments, banks, transport companies, energy grids, health providers and more.

So I hope that this platform gets to work straight away – I’m confident that soon it can raise the bar and raise awareness about the cybersecurity risks businesses and governments face – and help stimulate the solutions, too.

Is the EU Network and Information Security Directive a bigger threat than Al Qaeda?

globe padlocks, web security, network and information security directive, mobile data compliance, cyber crime

The focus should be on making it much easier to report attacks to those who will take action against predators and those who have aided and abetted them, not to regulators who will merely penalise the messenger. The only mandatory requirements should be on those to whom attacks are reported. This should include acting as a "first stop shop" and passing reports to those who may be in a better position to take action.

EU Data Protection Reform – A ‘Demented’ Set Of Regulations?

data protection reform

Plans to update data protection laws in Europe are facing increasing criticism from members of the European Parliament, with one UK commentator calling the draft proposals “a completely demented set of regulations.” But Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding remains adamant that her proposals should become law and has even accused the UK Government of introducing additional complexities. [...]

EU Consultation: How digital is changing the audiovisual sector

Television, Broadcasting, Media, media plurality, audiovisual sector
| Number of views :930

In so many sectors, the digital world is changing everything. Nowhere is that more true than in the audiovisual sector – like film and TV. And we’re consulting widely on what this means.

These days there is increasing convergence between what you can find online and what you get from your television. You can watch your favourite TV show from your mobile while on the train — or browse the web from the connected TV set in your living room.

This brings huge opportunities. You can choose not from a handful of channels but from literally millions of online options: what you want when you want it.  You don’t have to just tune in and passively watch: but can interact, rate, recommend to your friends; even create your own content.  In short, viewers can enjoy more choice, creativity, and convenience.  Not to mention the benefits for innovative content providers, and for our economy as a whole.

But from my perspective, there are also plenty of policy issues. Not least because historically some players (like broadcasters) have been subject to certain requirements and protections; while other newer players may not be. There’s a real question about how to ensure fair competition, especially as the line blurs between the different sectors.

That’s why we’ve launched a Green Paper on this converging audiovisual world. And last week we had a first fascinating discussion with national ministers from across the EU. I was glad that those ministers generally supported the approach of our green paper, and agreed that convergence is blurring regulatory boundaries. And our discussion was very wide-ranging: about (for instance) the spectrum trade-off between broadcasters and telecoms users; diversity, pluralism and European content; competition and interoperability in new services; protecting vulnerable users, including children; avoiding single market fragmentation; and keeping a flexible framework, including through tools short of full-scale regulation. (Also nice, by the way, to hear that at least one of those ministers is a regular reader of this blog!)

But it’s not just ministers’ views I’m interested in.  I want an open and frank debate from all parties, before technology overtakes us. And so I hope many of you will be taking part in our public consultation – available here (pdf) and open until the end of August.

Don’t you dare say, ‘lite’!

mentoring code,Competitive and Collaborative Advantage, standards, supplier code of practice

It’s the dumbing down of standards. If experience, knowledge, wisdom (and the occasional test) suggest a set of actions or measurements are needed to mitigate risks, who are we to hold our broken mirror up against requisite variety and chop off the bits that we can avoid seeing by holding the mirror just so? Tacit [...]

Remembering Margaret Thatcher – Neelie Kroes

margaret thatcher
| Number of views :235

Very sad news from the UK about the death of Margaret Thatcher; so today a blog on my personal reflections of her, and what she stood for.

I remember meeting her first in the seventies; and also a decade later, when I was a Dutch Minister and she Prime Minister. I was myself a young woman in politics; and here was someone who showed that women could succeed, lead and reach the top. Independently of her politics, that inspired me; as it must have inspired a whole generation of women, in politics and beyond.

She often, famously, differed from the views of the European Commission. But she also understood the benefits of Europe, and how to deliver them. She saw the power of the single market, and was prepared to make the institutional changes needed to achieve it. That engagement paid off; and the single market today stands as Europe’s crown jewel – even if the task is not yet complete, with new areas like the digital and telecommunications sectors still not fully benefiting.

She didn’t always believe in diplomacy. I remember her visit to the Netherlands in the eighties. Our own Prime Minister tried to flatter her, noting approvingly that ‘Thatcherite” was already being used as a Dutch word . In response she was pretty direct: observing that “Lubbersite” was far from making it into English, and would not do so unless he was prepared to take tough decisions, rather than merely parroting woolly language. Such frankness is how she left such a mark, not just on the language, but on the whole political landscape.

She famously said she was not a consensus politician, but conviction politician. Of course she has her critics; in politics, not everyone will agree with your convictions. But that approach is worth remembering today: a time when we face many challenges and need to change how we operate. At such a time, it’s worth remembering that sometimes we should not always just be polite and diplomatic, but honest and clear about the direction we need to head in.

Telecoms User Rights in Europe

What are Unified Communications, telecoms costs, telecoms spend, telecoms user rights, ofcom fines

The European Union’s package of measures for the EU-wide telecoms market provide important rules and user rights for citizens who use fixed land lines, mobile phones and the Internet to make calls and access other communications services. This means you! Telecoms user rights Rights for European Citizens include: the right to change your phone provider in [...]

E-commerce Directive 2000/31/EC

Business Directory, E-commerce Directive, Consumer Acquis, digital agenda priorities

The European Union’s Electronic Commerce Directive (the E-commerce Directive) establishes a framework for electronic commerce across the European Union’s internal market and aims to provide legal certainty for business and consumers alike. Introduced in 2000, the Directive establishes harmonised rules on transparency and information requirements for online service providers, commercial communications, electronic contracts and limitations of [...]

EU Digital Single Market: what the European Council means for you

Connectors, EU Flag, Lisbon Treaty, network and information, EU cyber laws, european union cyber laws
| Number of views :114

The conclusions of yesterday evening’s European Council contain a very significant message for the Digital Agenda. It asks for work to be prioritised in a few areas essential to growth and competitiveness—in particular information and communication services (ICT):

the European Council notes the Commission’s intention to report well before October on the state of play and the remaining obstacles to be tackled so as to ensure the completion of a fully functioning Digital Single Market by 2015, as well as concrete measures to establish the single market in Information and Communications Technology as early as possible.

For anyone who uses digital communications – from mobile phones to the internet – this is important and welcome news. And I would guess that’s everyone reading this blog.

The EU has spent the past few decades liberalising and improving the EU’s telecoms market. That has brought more competition, lower call and broadband prices, and significant new consumer rights. Gone are the days when your “choice” was restricted to confirming you would use the single, national phone company. And we are working hard to prove that sustainable competition and investment in high-speed networks can go hand in hand.

Unfortunately, the EU is still essentially a collection of 27 distinct national telecoms markets. And that fragmentation has consequences. It means that customer choice, for both consumers and business users, is limited to what happens to be on offer locally – and that can vary a lot, due to factors such as diverging regulation or the patchwork of uncoordinated past spectrum assignments for wireless operators. For businesses like telecoms operators, including those present in multiple countries, it means they don’t get the advantages of organising their operations to serve an EU-wide market, and can’t reach the size and scale needed to invest, innovate and compete globally.

Already I know that many of these are nagging issues for many Europeans. Too often, it’s the digital device in your pocket that constantly (and artificially) reminds you of national borders that are supposed to have disappeared. In tomorrow’s world of machine-to-machine communications—connected cars, mobile payments, and the Internet of Things—this could be even more of an issue.

Solving these problems takes ambition: but the potential reward is significant. Fully completing the EU’s single market in digital communications could boost our economy by up to €110 billion a year; over 0.8% of GDP. That’s too good an opportunity to miss.

So, in response to the European Council’s request, I will present a package of measures for endorsement by their October meeting.

I look forward to working with Member States, the European Parliament, the digital industry and consumers over the next few months to prepare that.

This has the potential to make people’s lives easier, make our businesses more productive, and ensure a globally competitive European telecoms sector. At a time when our economy really needs a boost, it’s great to see European leaders recognising the potential of EU action.