Policy News

April 2019

Copyright Directive Approved by European Parliament
The European Parliament has approved the new Copyright Directive in what is the penultimate step to the Directive becoming law. The new Directive seeks to update EU copyright laws which dated from 2001, pre-social media. The text of the Directive must now also be formally agreed by the Council. After this, it will be published in the Official Journal and Member States will have 24 months to transpose it into national legislation.

February 2019

Keeping kids safe on the Internet – New Expert Group
The European Commission took the opportunity of Safer Internet Day to launch a new Expert Group on Safer Internet for Children. The group will meet for the first time on 6 March. Their aim will be to improve cooperation and coordination between Member States and propose concrete actions that will keep children safe when using the internet.

January 2019

Political Agreement Reached on Revised Reuse of Public Sector Information Directive
The Council has reported that political agreement has been reached between the Council and the European Parliament on a revised directive on the reuse of public sector information. According to the Council the agreed text will mean that:
  • All public sector content that can be accessed under national access to documents rules will, in principle be freely available for re-use. Public sector bodies will not be able to charge more than the marginal cost for the re-use of their data, except in very limited cases. 
  • Public service companies in the transport and utilities sector generate valuable data. When their data is available for re-use, they will now be covered by the Open Data and Public Sector Information Directive. 
  • New safeguards reinforce transparency and limit the conclusion of agreements which could lead to exclusive re-use of public sector data by private partners.
  • Publicly-funded research data is brought under the scope of the directive 
The Council and the Parliament must now formally agree the next text. Member States will then have two years to transpose the Directive into national law.

Consultation - 5G Preparations – Small-area Wireless Access Points
The European Commission has launched an online consultation on options for a light deployment regime for small-area wireless access points (SAWAPs). SAWAPs are similar to Wif-Fi access points. They supplement macro-cells, allowing for increased coverage and capacity, improved user experience in locations with very high user density and enhanced spectrum efficiency. The European Electronic Communications Code seeks to significantly reduce the administrative burden involved in deploying certain SAWAPs and the Commission has said it will specify the physical and technical characteristics such as maximum size, weight and emission power of the SAWAPs that could be exempt from permitting rules.

The deadline for responding to this consultation is 10 April. 

December 2018

Public Consultation on ISA2 programme
The ISA2 programme is an EU programme which aims to develop interoperability solutions for public administrations, businesses and citizens. As part of a mid-term review of the programme, the European Commission has launched an online consultation on the programme to gauge the success of the programme. The consultation is open until 1 March 2019.

Sharing and Reuse Awards – Digital Public Services
The European Commission has launched a competition which will reward public authorities that have successfully developed a digital public service which has been reused. The reward has 4 categories:
  • Most innovative open source software;
  • Open source software with the biggest impact on citizens or businesses;
  • Most innovative shared IT services (commonly developed or shared);
  • Shared IT services (commonly developed or shared) with the biggest impact on citizens or businesses.

The winner in each category will receive €15,000 and the runner-up, €10,000. Applicants should consult the eligibility criteria carefully before applying.

eGovernment Benchmark 2018
The European Commission recently published the eGovernment Benchmark report for 2018. This report charts the progress made by public authorities across the EU to deliver egovernment services against four key benchmarks:
  • user-centricity
  • transparency 
  • cross-border mobility 
  • key enablers
The report shows that while progress has been made in all four areas, the issue to cross-border mobility continues to be the most challenging. The benchmark report also contains a vast number of good practice examples which could be a useful resource for egovernment policy makers.

New Telecoms Rules Agreed
Ministers agreed recently to a number of new rules in the field of telecommunications. A new directive establishing a European Electronic Communications Code hopes to stimulate the roll out of 5G. It also calls on Member States to set up a public warning system to send alerts to citizens’ mobile phones in the event of an emergency. A second piece of legislation concerns a revised remit for the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (BEREC). This revision includes a cap on the retail price of mobile or fixed calls from your home country to another EU country at 19 cents per minute and a cap for intra-EU text messages at 6 cents per message. The legislation must now be published in the Official Journal before coming in the force 3 days later. The new price caps will apply from as early as 15 May 2019.

November 2018

Free Flow of Personal Data Regulation Approved
The Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data crossed its final legislative hurdle recently when it was agreed by the Council. This Regulation means that Member States will no longer be allowed to impose data localisation restrictions and businesses will be allowed to process their data anywhere in the EU. The regulation will now come into force at the end of December and be applicable 6 months later.

eIDEAS Explanatory Video
The European Commission has produced a video explaining the Regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (eIDAS). The eIDAS Regulation came into force in September of this year. It aims to make providing businesses services in other EU countries easier by providing a single framework for electronic Identification (eID) and trust services. 

Digital Economy and Society Index
The 2018 Study of the International Digital Economy and Society Index (I-DESI) was recently published by the European Commission. This study uses 24 datasets to compare the digital performance of the EU28 Member States with 17 non-EU countries. The 2018 study shows that the digital performances of EU28 Member States are comparable or higher than the best global countries. Denmark was the leading country in the I-DESI index. Areas of strength for the EU28 Member States appear to be Connectivity (the deployment and take-up of fixed and mobile broadband) and Citizen Use of the Internet.

SELFIE (Supporting Schools for Learning in the Digital Age)
A new tool developed by the European Commission aims to help schools determine where they stand in terms of using digital technologies. The SELFIE tool takes a snapshot of a school‘s digital learning strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to plan for improvements and monitor results.

October 2018

Harmonising Radio Spectrum for Internet of Things Applications
The European Commission has adopted an Implementing Decision which harmonises radio spectrum within the 874-876 and 915-921 MHz frequency bands. The aim of this decision is to make additional appropriate spectrum available for Internet of Things (IoT) applications based on short-range devices. The Commission anticipates it will facilitate a variety of applications related to smart cities, smart homes, smart farming, transport and logistics and industrial production.

European Digital Skills Award 2018
The European Commission has launched the European Digital Skills Award 2018 to showcase European projects which develop individuals’ digital skills. The projects will be judged in five categories:
  • Citizens
  • Labour force
  • ICT specialists
  • Education 
  • Women and girls 
The Commission is particularly interested in projects that could be scaled-up and replicated in other sectors and regions. The deadline for submitting a project is 21 October 2018 and the application form can be found here.

The declaration on gender balanced work culture is now open to be signed by CEOs of tech companies
CEOs of tech companies committed to tackling the gender imbalance in the tech sector can now sign up to the European Commission’s declaration form on gender balanced work culture. The declaration, which was launched by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, allows CEOs to commit to 5 actions centred around recruiting a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive work environment, as well as, ensuring that women have equal opportunities to progress within their company.

Code of Practice agreed to tackle the spread of online disinformation and fake news
An agreement has been reached by representatives of online platforms, leading social networks, advertisers and advertising industry on a self-regulatory Code of Practice which aims to confront the spread of online disinformation and fake news. The code is a global, voluntary movement that builds on the priorities set out by the European Commission in April 2018. Part of the code aims to promote fair and transparent political campaigning online which the Commissions views as an essential component to the 2019 European elections campaign. The code also includes an annex which sets out best practises, including educating users on identifying and limiting the spread of fake news.

European Commission’s new 5G Observatory

The European Commission is taking steps to develop 5G innovation with the creation of its new online platform, the 5G Observatory, and the publication of the Observatory’s first quarterly report which will be available soon. The Observatory will gather data on EU and international 5G developments in both the private and public sectors. There are already twenty designated 5G trial cities in Europe, as well as, published national 5G roadmaps in 3 EU countries. The Observatory forms part of the Commission’s 5G Action Plan, which includes developing a network of pan-European 5G corridors to accelerate 5G development. The Commission deems the action plan to be an essential step in ensuring Europe is up-to-date with global competition.

Council supports Commission’s proposed €1 billion investment in world-class European supercomputers
The Competitiveness Council has adopted a Regulation to establish the European High Performance Computing (EuroHPC) Joint Undertaking – a new legal and funding structure, which will pool resources from 25 European countries, build supercomputing and data infrastructure, and support research and innovation in the field.

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will be established in November 2018 and remain operational until the end of 2026. It will have a budget of €1 billion, half from the EU budget and half from participating European Member States. Additional resources to the value of over €400 million will come from private partners.

To date, the following European countries have committed to joining the Joint Undertaking: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Following the closure of the European Partnership at the end of March 2019, this website is no longer active and will not be updated. However, it will be kept live for a period of time as an archive resource.