Digital Agenda

Digital Agenda for Europe

LOGO Digitale Agenda

As part of its Europe 2020 strategy, the European Commission published a communication entitled Digital Agenda for Europe in 2010. Containing over 100 measures, the agenda aims to implement the digital single market in Europe and to create more growth and employment in Europe by encouraging the use of ICT in all areas and on all levels.

At the EU level, the Digital Agenda is administered within the remit of the High-Level Group (political steering committee). (Austria is represented by the head of Department V/4).

Current status

On 18 December 2012, the Commission presented information on the Digital Agenda Review, which – in addition to reviewing implementation to date – sets new priorities (in particular fixed broadband networks and high-speed mobile wireless networks; digital single market by 2013; strengthened measures relating to ICT training, in particular through standard professional profiles and qualification certificates; cyber security; modernisation of copyright law; acceleration of cloud computing).

The Commission pointed out that the digital economy is growing seven times faster than the rest of the economy, but that this potential was being poorly exploited due to the patchwork political framework within Europe as a whole. According to the Commission, full implementation of the updated agenda could increase the GDP of the EU by 5 % over the next eight years. However, this would require an increase in ICT investment, an improvement in the ICT competencies of employees in order to enable innovations in the public sector and a reform of the conditions for the Internet economy.

In March 2013, the Commission also launched the initiative Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, which aims to counteract the impending lack of ICT specialists at the EU level. Austria supports these objectives and the Austrian Federal Chancellery will discuss with all relevant stakeholders how these initiatives can be implemented within the country.

Main areas of implementation

  • Broadband expansion: Broadband Strategy 2020

The Broadband Strategy 2020 of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology is intended to make the conversion to high-performance broadband networks a success. The financial expenditure required for a comprehensive expansion of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) would – according to calculations performed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) – amount to about five billion euros in Austria. Since a considerable portion of the costs is accounted for by construction measures (e. g. excavation of soil, laying of pipelines, making connections to homes), well-managed coordination of the construction work could reduce these costs by more than 50 %.
Transmission rates of at least 100 Mbit/s should be available nationwide by 2020. By achieving this objective, Austria will move far beyond the target of the Digital Agenda (50 % of the population with 100 Mbit/s by 2020).

Further information on the broadband expansion programme (in German only) is available on the BMVIT website (https://www.bmvit.gv.at/telekommunikation/breitbandstrategie/bbs2020.html)

  • Digital Single Market

The creation of a Digital Single Market means above all the removal of existing obstacles (e. g. harmonisation in the area of copyright law, different legal systems, warranty) and building up greater confidence (e. g. consumer protection). These problems often stand in the way of cross-border trade. The telecommunications markets also remain heavily fragmented. The use of the digital single market will only succeed if the market’s existing fragmentation is overcome. The cross-border sale of online music continues to face serious difficulties. The completion of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is an important step in this regard, but other steps are needed. Confidence when making online transactions must be strengthened.

On 25 January 2012, the European Commission proposed comprehensive reforms to the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive in order to strengthen the online rights of the individual to privacy protection and to boost Europe’s digital economy. The principles of the 1995 Data Protection Directive are to be updated and modernised to include the Commission’s proposals in order to ensure that personal details remain protected in the future. The Commission’s proposals consist of notification about the political objectives of the Commission (COM/2012/09) and two legislative proposals; these concern a regulation for establishing a general legal framework for data protection in the EU (COM/2012/0011) and a directive for the protection of personal data that is processed for the purpose of preventing, disclosing, investigating or prosecuting criminal acts and for associated judicial activities (COM/2012/0010). Intensive work is currently being undertaken on this package.

The Commission’s notification on Content in the Digital Single Market (COM/2012/789) of 18 December 2012 also focuses on copyright law. On the one hand, the Commission will complete the work currently being undertaken to revise and modernise the EU legal framework for copyright law. On the other hand, further debates on questions such as Licences for Europe will take place, an area in which rapid progress is necessary and possible. The term Licences for Europe encompasses, amongst other things, four main tasks that are processed in parallel.
- Cross-border access and transmission of services
- User-generated content and licensing for small users of protected works
- The audiovisual sector and cultural heritage institutions
- Text and data mining
In this regard, the Commission will hold dialogues with the stakeholders and set up committees.

  • Education: eFit21 – digital agenda for education, the arts and culture

efit21 focuses specifically on the inclusion and use of the new information and communication technologies in Austria’s educational, arts and cultural institutions, lays the basis for an ICT implementation strategy that focuses on targets and effects, and is the digital agenda for education, the arts and culture of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education.
efit21 pursues six strategic outcome objectives, four of which relate to digital competencies and digital literacy:
- to increase the quality of teaching and learning through the use of ICT
- to impart digital competencies to pupils and teachers
- to promote labour market success through modern ICT training and skills
- to dismantle barriers, to increase participation through ICT, and thereby to integrate society

The potential of ICT as a driver for the development of quality should be used; ICT will be integrated into education policy reform projects such as:
- competency-based teaching and learning through the use of ICT
- e-Learning as a focal point in the New Middle Schools
- the individualisation of teaching through e-learning
- imparting digital competencies to future teaching professionals within the scope of the redesigned training for educators

In essence, the objective for the future is to promote digital competency through better education as well as more attractive and usable services, and to find ways to remove the obstacles to accessing the Internet.
In addition – above all with regard to the national implementation of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs – the departments responsible will have to develop a strategy for how further education can be made more attractive in order to increase the proportion of ICT specialists and technicians, and how access to such education can be simplified for girls and women in particular.

You can find extensive information on this topic on the e-Fit21 website of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education (http://www.efit21.at).

  • Digital Inclusion

Another area in which Austria is making a special effort concerns measures for reducing the number of offliners (around 20% of those aged 16-74 do not use the Internet). To this end, the Austrian Federal Chancellery organised a conference of experts on the topic How fit is Austria for the Internet? (Conference Website in German only) in December 2012.

Digital inclusion means getting the approximately 20% of the Austrian population that live without ICT onto the net in order to increase their opportunities to participate in society. In addition to providing the technical infrastructure and know-how, teaching people how to use ICT as well as helping them to acquire media competency, special measures that focus on the target groups are also required in this regard, especially for older people, people with disabilities, women, people with low qualifications or a lack of education and disadvantaged youth.

For many years, various initiatives have offered special courses for seniors (f.e. Seniorkom.at, A1 Internet for All). In terms of efficiency and effectiveness, collaboration on and coordination of these projects is important.
In order to break down any reservations that people may have and to let them safely enjoy the benefits of the Internet, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection has prepared the brochure Using the Internet safely. Information and tips for seniors in collaboration with Saferinternet.at. Besides the possibilities of procuring the information that the Internet offers, information on how to use emails and Internet telephony as well as tips for shopping on the Internet, the brochure also highlights potential hazards and highlights where caution is required, such as when shopping online or entering personal details.

Web content should be made accessible to everyone through compliance with the guidelines of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). For example, official channels should be simplified by providing Internet offerings that are made suitably accessible, especially for people with disabilities or older people.
Numerous organisations in the Austrian administration are involved in providing accessible web offerings. This is primarily about providing web offerings that can be used by everyone in the same way – simply, quickly and conveniently. For example, all websites of the Austrian Federal Chancellery pay special attention to the accessibility of the content and optimisations are made continuously. Another service involves offering important content in video form with a sign language interpreter.

  • e-Government

Across Europe, around 38% of citizens currently make use of public online offerings. This figure should grow to 50% by 2015. More than half of these online users should also be able to make their submissions to their local administrative authorities online.

Austria has been the EU leader in eGovernment for years. The Austrian administration offers numerous services on the Internet, which, for example, makes it possible to make applications largely independent of time and place or to communicate electronically with the administration.

You can find extensive information about this on the website of the Digital Platform Austria at http://www.digitales.oesterreich.gv.at/site/6497/Default.aspx

  • Research and innovation

The EU Commission believes Austria is well on its way to becoming a world leader in the area of research and development. Expenditure on research and development has increased over the past decade: from 1.94% of GDP in 2000 to 2.79% in 2010. This development is clearly above the EU average and has enabled Austria to approach the EU Lisbon target (to increase research expenditure to three percent of GDP by 2010). The Ministerial Council Decision of 2012 was an important signal to the Federal Government that it would continue investing in research, technological development and innovation, despite the economic crisis.

For details, see the "Austrian Research and Technology Report 2012" (http://www.bmvit.gv.at/en/service/publications/downloads/downloads_ftb/ftb_2012_en.pdf)

  • Awareness-Raising

In addition to the priorities proposed in the Digital Agenda Review, Austria sees central elements that have been superbly addressed for many years through the Safer Internet Programme, above all in the area of awareness-raising and prevention. The Austrian safer internet hub, Saferinternet.at, supports pupils, teachers and parents with the safe use of the Internet, mobile phones and computer games through workshops, teaching materials and courses.

Details on the measures implemented by Austria can be found at http://www.daeimplementation.eu/