Digital Agenda: Commission outlines action plan to boost Europe’s prosperity and well-being
“[Abstract ]Implementing the ambitious Digital Agenda for Europe unveiled today by the European Commission would contribute significantly to the EU’s economic growth and spread the benefits of the digital era to all sections of society. Half of European productivity growth over the past 15 years was already driven by information and communications technologies (see IP/10/571) and this trend is likely to accelerate. The Agenda outlines seven priority areas for action: creating a digital Single Market, greater interoperability, boosting internet trust and security, much faster internet access, more investment in research and development, enhancing digital literacy skills and inclusion, and applying information and communications technologies to address challenges facing society like climate change and the ageing population. Examples of benefits include easier electronic payments and invoicing, rapid deployment of telemedicine and energy efficient lighting. In these seven areas, the Digital Agenda foresees some 100 follow-up actions, of which 31 would be legislative. The Digital Agenda is the first of seven flagship initiatives under the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (see IP/10/225).
Council Conclusions on Europeana: Next Steps
Source: Council of the European Union (via European Information Association)
In its conclusions on Europeana, the Education, Youth and Culture Council has said that the initiative ’should continue its development as a collaborative endeavour of Europe’s cultural institutions, and its work on improving the portal – including a more coherent and appealing presentation of the digitised items, tackling multilingual aspects, and enhancing the search facilities – in order to meet users’ needs and expectations.’ Ministers also want a sustainable funding and governance model to take into consideration the role of Europeana in offering the widest possible access to cultural collections and the European scope and nature of the site. ‘The digitisation and on line accessibility of our cultural heritage should be carried out in full respect of intellectual property rights’, said Ministers: ‘there is a need to make rapid progress in finding workable solutions for digitising out-of-print and out-of-distribution works and bringing them on line, and for addressing the orphan works issue.’
Spain approved public spending cuts of over 15 billion euros on Thursday, and in Belgium austerity measures are a major election campaign issue. Meanwhile in Romania and Greece thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest against their governments’ austerity programmes. Europe’s press discusses the national measures.
On Thursday, Greece was paralysed by a 24-hour general strike called to protest against new austerity measures introduced by the government of George Papandreou. Over 25,000 people marched through the centre of Athens, chanting ‘thieves come out’ in front of the national parliament. The austerity measures, which include raising the national retirement age, tax hikes and cuts to public sector pay, have attracted the ire of Greece’s unions, which represent more than 2.5 million workers. The emergency measures are aimed at reducing Greece’s deficit from 13.6 percent of GDP to below 3 percent by 2014. The government’s agreement to this target was a prerequisite for a combined $140 billion European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel played the populist card over the Greek crisis and even rode on anti-Greek prejudices shared by many Germans. Several mainstream politicians described the contagious effect across Europe as “alarming”. EurActiv’s network reports.
by Philip Whyte
When EU finance ministers met in Brussels on 18 May, many observers expected sparks to fly. The reason? This was the first EU meeting that Britain’s newly-elected government would attend. And a leading item on the agenda was the Commission’s proposed directive to regulate managers of ‘alternative investment funds’. France and Germany have pressed hard for the directive. Britain has deep reservations about it. The fear across the EU was that a hard-line British eurosceptic government ideologically resistant to regulating financial markets would come to Brussels seeking confrontation over the directive. In the event, the bust-up never happened. What lessons should one draw about the new, Conservative-led government’s attitude to the EU and to financial regulation?
The German government has incurred the wrath of its European partners with its ban on naked short sales of shares and government bonds. Commentators doubt whether the ban can be implemented, and fear that Germany’s solo move will impede coordinated financial reform.
The financial crash that brought the era of neo-liberalism to an end has now led to the formation of a novel coalition in Britain after 65 years of single-party government. This essay argues that it is important to understand what is special about the underlying economic and social crisis – and how the balance of forces is very different from those that wracked Britain in the 1970s and opened the way to Margaret Thatcher.
It’s a fairly long interview (48 minutes in audio) so I’d just point to one paragraph on the future of subventions under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union:
The New Statesman Staggers blog posted twelve reflections by me on where we are at and what to make of it. They are directed at its left-inclined readership. It was called ‘Now that we’ve Hung ‘em’, a reference to the cover essay I wrote for the mag shortly before the election calling for a hung parliament to frustrate both Labour and the Tories.
1. David Cameron is the adroit driver of the coalition. He proposed an offer that the weakened Lib Dems couldn’t refuse. His own strategy is to replace Tory nationalism with a 21st-century version of One-Nation “Whig” Conservatism, one that can appeal to urban and suburban multicultural Britain. (See “The end of Thatcherism” I wrote immediate after the Coalition was formed) Don’t blame Nick; Labour wasn’t interested in changing.
The first meeting of the Task Force established by the March 2010 European Council on improved crisis resolution and better budgetary discipline will be held in Brussels on today, Friday 21 May 2010.
The Task Force is chaired by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.