The European Commission has outlined ambitious plans on how businesses and researchers across the EU can get better access to the technologies that will help them to modernise.
The package, unveiled on Tuesday, includes improving access to cloud computing and services, data analytics and the so-called ‘Internet of Things’.
Under the plans, the commission will set up a European cloud that is designed to give Europe’s 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals a virtual environment to store, manage, analyse and re-use a large amount of research data.
The strategy is designed to improve the way member states do business in research, technology and industrial sectors and enable European companies compete globally.
The package also aims to help business and research communities make the most of EU research and development in high technology areas.
The actions will in part be funded by Horizon 2020, the biggest ever EU research and innovation programme with €80bn of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020), alongside private investment.
The executive set out suggestions in four areas of working:
- Digitising European industry, which sets out how the commission will help industries to take advantage of digital technologies;
- The European Cloud Initiative, to be used by the science community, which could include making scientific data generated by the Horizon 2020 programme open by default;
- Priorities for ICT standardisation, which will help to make it easier for businesses to operate in the single market;
- An eGovernment action plan 2016 – 2020, which will help to modernise public administration, making it easier for citizens and businesses to access government services in European countries.
Reaction was swift, with Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the digital single market, saying: “The industrial revolution of our time is digital. We need the right scale for technologies such as cloud computing, data-driven science and the internet of things to reach their full potential.”
He added, “As companies aim to scale up across the single market, public services should also meet today’s needs: be digital, open and cross-border by design. The EU is the right scale for the digital times.”
Elsewhere, Günther Oettinger, European digital economy and society commissioner, said: “Europe has a very competitive industrial base and is a global leader in important sectors. But it will only be able to maintain its leading role if the digitisation of its industry is successful and reached fast.”
The German official went on, “Our proposals aim to ensure that this happens. It requires a joint effort across Europe to attract the investments we need for growth in the digital economy.”
The package was also welcomed by the UK business minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe who said: “The fourth industrial revolution will fundamentally change the way we do business in this country. As with previous industrial revolutions, the expectation must be that the net effect will be positive for almost everyone.
“The package set out by the commission contains stimulating ideas about how businesses can embrace new and interesting ways of working.
“I look forward to working with the commission on a package that works for UK businesses and agreeing a way forward in the competitiveness council.”