As part of an update (13-page / 257KB PDF) it has made to its 'Digital Agenda' priorities, the Commission said it would specify in the next two years what action must be taken to avert cyber attacks and report incidents that occur. The Digital Agenda is a series of aims which the Commission first outlined in 2010 and which it has said will guide its legislating and policy formation activities until 2020.
"Security and freedom online go hand-in-hand," the Commission said in a statement. "The EU should offer the world's safest online environments, valuing user freedom and privacy. The Commission will deliver a strategy and proposed Directive to establish a common minimum level of preparedness at national level, including an online platform to prevent and counter cross-border cyber incidents, and incident reporting requirements. This will stimulate a larger European market for security and privacy-by-design products."
The Commission has also said that it would take action during 2013/14 to try to encourage more private sector investment in both fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure. It said that increasing broadband use by 10% could help grow the EU's economy by more than 1% annually.
"The Commission's top digital priority for 2013 is therefore finalising a new and stable broadband regulatory environment," it said. "A package of ten actions in 2013 will include Recommendations on stronger non-discriminatory network access and new costing methodology for wholesale access to broadband networks, net neutrality, universal service and mechanisms for reducing the civil engineering costs of broadband roll-out."
The Commission also said it would "fast-track the roll out of digital services" in the public sector. The services will take advantage of new cross-border initiatives to verify individuals' electronic identities and signatures as well as on electronic procurement, amongst other schemes, it said.
Plans to modernise EU copyright laws will also be prioritised in 2013/14, the Commission said. It said it will facilitate "structured stakeholder dialogue" next year with a view to deciding in 2014 whether to make legislative proposals on reforms to the framework. The dialogue discussions will lead to "practical industry-led solutions" on improving the distribution of content across borders, tackling the issue of the licensing of copyrighted works used as part of user-generated content and also on improving the legal avenues for accessing films online, the Commission said.
In addition, the Commission said it hopes the dialogue will lead to the creation of "standard licensing models" and establishment of new platforms to help make it more "efficient" for text and data to be 'mined' for scientific research purposes.
"Exploiting the full potential of the digital economy is vital to delivering growth in Europe," European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said in a statement. "It is extremely important for us to work with industry in order to accelerate solutions which tap the potential of digital markets to develop new business models. A modern copyright framework can be win-win for all stakeholders, providing sustainable incentives for creativity, cultural diversity and innovation, and improving choice and access to legal offers for consumers."
The Commission said that it made "common sense" to review the priorities for action under its Digital Agenda programme at this time because of the fast-changing nature of the "digital sector". It said that the EU economy would benefit if the revised Digital Agenda was executed.
"Full implementation of this updated Digital Agenda would increase European GDP by 5%, or €1500 per person, over the next eight years, by increasing investment in ICT, improving eSkills levels in the labour force, enabling public sector innovation, and reforming the framework conditions for the internet economy," it said. "In terms of jobs, up to one million digital jobs risk going unfilled by 2015 without pan-European action while 1.2 million jobs could be created through infrastructure construction. This would rise to 3.8 million new jobs throughout the economy in the long term."