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Procedure : 2013/2593(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0385/2013

Texts tabled :

B7-0385/2013

Debates :

Votes :

PV 12/09/2013 - 13.10

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2013)0377

Texts adopted
PDF 136kWORD 28k
Thursday, 12 September 2013 - Strasbourg Final edition
Digital agenda for growth, mobility and employment
P7_TA(2013)0377B7-0385/2013

European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2013 on the Digital Agenda for Growth, Mobility and Employment: time to move up a gear (2013/2593(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 18 December 2012 entitled ‘The Digital Agenda for Europe – Driving European growth digitally’ (COM(2012)0784),

–  having regard to the questions to the Commission and to the Council on ‘the Digital Agenda for Growth, Mobility and Employment: time to move up a gear’ (O–000085 – B7–0219/2013 and O-000086 – B7–0220/2013),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 June 2012 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union(1) ,

–  having regard to Decision No 243/2012/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 establishing a multiannual radio spectrum policy programme(2) ,

–  having regard to the ongoing negotiations on the Connecting Europe Facility and in particular to the amended proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks and repealing Decision No 1336/97/EC (COM(2013)0329),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on ‘a new Digital Agenda for Europe: 2015.eu’(3) ,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 27 September 2012 entitled ‘Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe’ (COM(2012)0529),

–  having regard to the proposal of 25 January 2012 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation) (COM(2012)0011),

–  having regard to the proposal of 19 October 2011 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Connecting Europe Facility (COM(2011)0665),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 19 May 2010 entitled ‘A Digital Agenda for Europe’ (COM(2010)0245),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the European Council is planning to adopt conclusions on the Digital Agenda for Europe at its meeting on 24 and 25 October 2013;

B.  whereas the primary aim of the digital strategy for Europe adopted in 2010 must be to reduce the inequalities between Member States, particularly with regard to access to fixed and mobile fast and ultra-fast broadband infrastructure;

C.  whereas information and communication technologies (ICTs) are at the core of the digital society and today account for approximately 20 % of the EU’s annual productivity growth and 4,5 % of its GDP, and generate 25 % of private investment in R&D in the EU, potentially constituting an extraordinary contributor to growth and employment;

D.  whereas tapping the potential of the digital economy in the EU would have a high multiplier effect on the economy, leading to increased growth and more jobs; whereas unlocking this potential is therefore one of the most important reforms for growth and competitiveness with a view to helping the EU to exit the current crisis;

E.  whereas it is estimated that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020 and global data traffic is expected to grow 15-fold by the end of 2017; whereas this exponential growth in broadband traffic will require ambitious policies at Union and Member State level to increase the capacity of both fixed and mobile networks, if the EU is to achieve more growth, competitiveness and productivity;

F.  whereas the current digital agenda targets have been outrun by the speed of developments on other continents and are therefore not ambitious enough to ensure that the EU will be a global telecoms leader by 2020;

G.  whereas Parliament and the Council are still awaiting proposals from the Commission on net neutrality and universal service;

1.  Stresses that the digital agenda and the completion of a digital single market must stand at the heart of the EU’s efforts to generate growth and exit from the crisis; believes that political leadership is required at both EU and national level to address existing barriers to the digital single market in order to create jobs and growth in the EU; recalls that the digital economy is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy and notes that the completion of the digital single market could give it a boost of EUR 110 billion per year;

2.  Points out that the EU faces multiple, simultaneous pressures on GDP growth at a time when the scope to stimulate growth from public funds is limited by high debt and deficit levels, and calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to mobilise every possible growth lever; notes that ICTs are essential transformative technologies in all sectors of the economy, with special relevance in areas such as healthcare, energy, public services and education;

A roaming-free Europe in 2015

3.  Regrets the fact that the telecoms market is still fragmented into national markets with artificial borders and cannot be considered as a single economic market in which competition is encouraged;

4.  Stresses that industry analysts have indicated that in many cases roaming accounts for about 10 % of EU operator revenues, and notes that the latest analyses by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications have shown that, on average, industry and consumers pay double the price for roaming calls that operators have to pay in the wholesale market;

5.  Regrets the fact that these unbalanced profit margins on roaming increase the costs of mobility within the EU; points out that this is hampering growth and prosperity, since mobility is one of the most important factors for EU growth;

6.  Stresses that abolishing roaming charges is crucial to stimulating innovation by creating a larger home market for innovative products and services;

7.  Believes that a single telecoms market currently does not exist, inter alia because of the significant differences between domestic and roaming prices; believes, therefore, that structural measures should help to create a genuine internal digital market in which competition is encouraged and there is no differentiation between national and roaming tariffs, thus establishing a pan-EU mobile communications market;

8.  Reminds the Council and the Commission that according to the Digital Agenda for Europe the difference between roaming and national tariffs should be close to zero by 2015, and that the objective of Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 is to achieve an internal market for mobile communication services and ultimately for there to be no differentiation between national and roaming tariffs;

9.  Believes that the measures completing the digital single market should therefore result in the gap between roaming and national tariffs being closed by 2015, which will lead to a roaming-free EU (for calls, text messages and data);

10.  Recalls that new offers by telecom operators should be user-friendly and transparent, thereby avoiding the creation of new hidden barriers in the telecom sector;

11.  Recalls that the Commission is due to review the functioning of Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 and to evaluate the competitiveness of the roaming market, the extent to which consumers have benefited from real reductions in the price of roaming services, and the difference between roaming and national tariffs, including the availability of offers providing a single tariff for national and roaming services;

12.  Notes that a genuine digital single market will not be created merely by eliminating roaming charges; emphasises that this measure must be seen as part of a comprehensive European digital strategy geared particularly to infrastructure development and accessibility, so as to promote job retention and creation in this sector;

13.  Welcomes the Commission’s announcement that it will propose a legislative package to tackle the remaining obstacles to the functioning of the EU’s digital single market; calls on the Commission to conduct an impact assessment of the growth potential for the telecoms sector through the creation of a digital single market in the EU;

Infrastructure and mobility

14.  Highlights the need for the broadband uptake and access, e-commerce, digital inclusion, cross-border public services and research and innovation targets set in the Digital Agenda for Europe to remain an overreaching priority in order for the EU to reap the full benefits of the digital society;

15.  Recalls that, parallel to the need to remove barriers to the EU digital single market, it is an absolute priority for the EU to invest in optimal, very fast internet broadband infrastructure in order to tap the full potential of the digital economy;

16.  Stresses that if the EU is to be home to the digital revolution and regain its global leadership, we need ambitious, forward-looking targets for 2020; believes that a revised forward-looking digital agenda target for 2020 should be to connect all EU households with broadband connections delivering 100 megabits/second, with 50 % of households subscribing to 1 gigabit/second or more; takes note that the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy has already indicated its support for such ambitious targets in its report on guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks and the repeal of Decision No 1336/97/EC;

17.  Deeply regrets the fact that many Member States have failed to meet the deadline of 1 January 2013 for allocating the ‘digital dividend’ in the 800 MHz band to mobile broadband services, as stipulated in the radio spectrum policy programme; stresses that this delay has hampered the rollout of 4G networks in the EU and therefore calls on the Member States to take the necessary steps to ensure that the 800 MHz band becomes available for mobile broadband services, and on the Commission to use its full powers to ensure swift implementation;

18.  Notes that broadband provision is expected to fall far short of the targets set in the Digital Agenda; is convinced, therefore, that without greater levels of investment in future networks the EU will become even less competitive globally; considers that the Commission, in the context of the Single Market Act, should also present a broad review of the legal framework for the telecoms market in order to drive forward investment in fixed and mobile networks;

19.  Considers that the role of competition in spurring investment in new digital infrastructure to promote economic growth should not be undermined; believes that it is crucial for the Commission to guarantee a regulatory framework which allows all market players to invest in innovative digital infrastructure; considers that, to this end, new rules on setting efficient access prices for Next Generation Access (NGA) networks should reflect the underlying competitive process in each Member State by respecting the prerogatives of national regulatory authorities (NRAs); believes that, to this end, NRAs should be working to pursue common objectives, e.g. those of the Digital Agenda, drawing on their better knowledge of, and specific expertise regarding, their respective national markets;

20.  Calls on the Commission to put forward proposals for a fundamental revision of the regulatory framework for electronic communications;

21.  Highlights the importance of completing key actions announced in the Digital Agenda for Europe, with particular emphasis on resilient, trustworthy infrastructure and services, and on the data protection regime;

22.  Reminds the Commission to carry out an evaluation and revision of the Information Society Directive (2001/29/EC(4) ) to ensure predictability, mobility and flexibility in the EU digital single market, as called for in the European Parliament’s resolution of 11 December 2012 on a digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy(5) ;

ICTs for youth employment

23.  Stresses that achieving a fully operational digital single market requires a coordinated effort to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their location, have access to the internet and the necessary skills to use it;

24.  Welcomes the launch in March 2013 of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, open to all stakeholders; calls on the Commission to make the Grand Coalition operational as a matter of urgency, to replicate this initiative at Member State level and to give participants preferential access to Union funds to support their actions;

25.  Stresses that unemployment, including youth and long-term unemployment, has reached unacceptably high levels in the EU, which are likely to remain high in the near future, and that determined, urgent action is needed at all political levels;

26.  Notes that there are currently more than 4 million ICT workers in the EU, a figure that is growing by 3 % annually, and that by 2015, according to the Commission, 700 000 to 1 million high-quality ICT jobs will not be filled, despite the crisis; stresses that e-skills and digital education can consequently be of extraordinary importance in tackling rising unemployment, especially among young people;

27.  Welcomes the adoption at Union level of the ‘Youth Guarantee’ schemes in order to ensure that all young Europeans receive a good-quality job offer, further education or training, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed; notes, however, that the sum of EUR 6 billion earmarked for the Youth Employment Initiative in the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) is clearly insufficient to address the scale of the problem; calls on the Commission and the Member States to maximise the effectiveness of such action by prioritising the acquisition of digital skills; stresses that digital skills should be an indispensable component of professional training, so as to ensure that both new generations and those currently in the workplace are able to acquire the skills they need;

ICTs for SMEs

28.  Recalls that the internet’s role as a platform enabling any citizen to launch a service or innovative product aimed at any other citizen, thereby creating jobs and SMEs, in addition to its role as a platform for social communication, is a core principle of the digital single market;

29.  Stresses that SMEs are the heart of the EU economy and that more action is needed to promote the global competitiveness of EU SMEs and establish the best possible environment for the uptake of promising new technological developments with a high impact on the EU’s competitiveness, such as cloud computing;

30.  Notes that as an alternative career option to regular employment, more Europeans, especially young people, are now choosing to become entrepreneurs, driven by the unprecedented opportunities created by the web, the cloud, mobile platforms, social networks and the enormous data flows; calls on the Commission and the Member States to deploy a more business-friendly environment with easier access to finance (‘licence to fail’), markets, networks and skills, which must be encouraged through risk–sharing schemes, venture capital, favourable fiscal treatment and networking events;

Digitalisation of the public sector

31.  Stresses that the digitalisation of the public sector should be at the forefront of the next steps in the Digital Agenda, given that, in addition to the cost reductions for public administrations and the provision of more efficient services to citizens, the digital leverage effect in all sectors of the economy would be extremely beneficial;

32.  Considers it regrettable that national cloud computing strategies are being pursued at the expense of an ambitious and effective European strategy; calls on the Commission to strengthen its proposals and identify resources that will be sufficiently effective to put the EU in a leading position in terms of standardisation;

33.  Emphasises that a modern public administration is an essential factor underpinning the design and delivery of policies promoting jobs, growth and competitiveness; stresses that the potential of ICTs should be exploited in order to achieve a better–performing, more efficient public sector while reducing administrative burden; notes that ICTs can spur reform of the tax collection and healthcare systems, reduce delays in payments to suppliers and improve the efficiency of judicial systems; considers, in particular, that healthcare provision stands to be revolutionised, delivering more cost-efficient and personalised services to patients and professionals;

34.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to speed up the work of the European Cloud Partnership;

Financing ICTs: the MFF

35.  Regrets the fact that the sum of EUR 9.2 billion proposed by the Commission for ICT investment through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the 2014-2020 period will be drastically reduced; stresses that, owing to the new financial circumstances, investments in broadband networks under the Structural Funds and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development are more important than ever and should be increased for the 2007-2013 programming period;

36.  Stresses that greater targeting of EU funding for ICT investment is needed and that the funding for ICT in the next MFF should be commensurate with the weight and economic impact of this sector; calls for the share of ICT-related expenditure in the overall MFF to be given higher priority compared with the 2007–2013 period;

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37.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 172, 30.6.2012, p. 10.
(2) OJ L 81, 21.3.2012, p. 7.
(3) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 45.
(4) OJ L 167, 22.6.2001, p. 10.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470.

Last updated: 26 January 2016Legal notice