European Union member states must become “more ambitious” and develop a greater sense of urgency in their plans for exploiting IT, the European Commission has urged in a critical report.
In its first annual progress report on its i2010 strategy for IT growth and jobs, the commission calls for European states to “step up” efforts to improve access to broadband, facilitate Europe-wide circulation of digital content and modernise public services.
Following the Commission’s June 2005 adoption of the i2010 strategy, EU member states had identified research and innovation policies as a key priority in their national programmes.
But the Commission said the national programmes “fail to give a new impetus to information society policies or to cover drivers of growth such as the convergence of digital networks, content and devices”.
Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for information society and media, said, “Europe’s policies for the digital economy have made some progress, but I do not think that this is good enough.”
She added, “It is worrying that in ICT research, Europe continues to lag behind its competitors, investing about half as much as the US. ICT is today contributing less to European productivity growth than it did 10 years ago.”
Reding called on EU leaders to develop a “stronger sense of urgency in their national reform programmes”.
The report notes that the European IT sector has continued to achieve above-average growth, compared with the rest of the economy, and was “still the EU’s most innovative and research intensive sector” – accounting for 25% of the total EU research effort and 5.6% of the GDP between 2000 and 2003. IT generated at least 45% of EU productivity gains in 2000-2004.