The European Commission (EC) has announced new proposals designed to kick-start investment in technology, and encourage member states and their enterprises to use IT to lower carbon emissions at the same time.
First is an increase in funding. Europe should double its research investments in IT and innovation over the next 10 years, according to the EC, which said that it will increase the annual funding available for projects from €1.1bn in 2010 to €1.7bn by 2013.
The second element will see the EC create an environment in which research and development is encouraged. The organisation will integrate enablers for this into all areas of its policies.
Thirdly, information sharing between member states will be encouraged, particularly in areas with a significant 'socio-economic' impact.
"For decades to come, ICT will underpin the competitiveness of our economy, the efficiency of our public services and our quality of life. Europe represents the largest share of the world's ICT market, and our economic performance and jobs depend on these technologies," said Reding.
"Our task is to make sure that Europe is well equipped to harness the potential of technologies like the internet or mobile phones. This means taking concrete steps to ensure that Europe takes pole position to shape and benefit from ICT developments.
"That is why the EC is proposing steps to seize the opportunities of new developments such as the 'Future Internet', web-based services and nano-electronics. These are key in spurring the economic upturn. If Europe wants to be ambitious and take the lead, we should double both private and public investments in ICT research by 2020."
The EC has also asked businesses to use IT solutions to cut down carbon emissions and improve green credentials. Again Reding is behind the move, and she has explained how technology could be used to cut power consumption in businesses by as much as 17 per cent.
"Targeting energy-efficient and low-carbon growth will help Europe face its biggest challenges: climate change, energy security and the economic crisis. ICT has an enormous untapped potential for saving energy right across the economy," said Reding.
"I would recommend the ICT sector to show the way for the rest of the economy by reducing its own carbon footprint by 20 per cent by 2015. I see from the response of European ICT companies to the EC's ongoing work that Europe is already well ahead in using ICT for greening the economy."
The EC will work with businesses and the public as it consults on the available options, and is expected to make an announcement later this year.
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