The European Commission has set out its Digital Agenda, which includes measures to use technology to address rising healthcare costs and help member states to cope with their ageing populations.

The action plan says the smart use of technology and the exploitation of information will help to address these and other challenges facing society, including climate change.

The EC will set up wide-scale pilots to take forward the ideas in the Digital Agenda. One of these will aim to give Europeans secure, online access to their medical health data so they can share it with doctors. The action plan says the planned delivery date for this initiative is 2015-20.

The document says the EC will also aim to “increase safety and medical assistance to Europeans, for instance in an emergency abroad, by defining a minimum set of health information to be included on patient records that can be accessed electronically anywhere in the EU.” This action is planned for implementation by 2012.

The agenda identifies a number of measures that will be put into place or proposed over the next 2-3 years, leading to follow-up actions up to 2015. The initiative will then be developed over the next 10 years, as a part of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

In addition to more specific actions around e-health, the agenda also outlines plans to provide effective interoperability between IT products and services to "build a truly digital society". These will include new legal measures to reform the rules on the implementation of ICT standards.

The agenda also aims “to bring basic broadband to all Europeans by 2013 and to ensure that, by 2020, all Europeans have access to much higher internet speeds of above 30 Mbps and 50% or more of European households subscribe to internet access above 100 Mbps.” It says this is needed so European citizens can access content and services whenever they want.

Commission vice president for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, said that Europe needs a new action plan for making the best use of information and communication technologies to speed up economic recovery and lay the foundations of a sustainable digital future.

She said: "We must put the interests of Europe’s citizens and businesses at the forefront of the digital revolution and so maximise the potential of ICTs to advance job creation, sustainability and social inclusion.

"The ambitious strategy set out today shows clearly where we need to focus our efforts in the years to come. To fully realise the potential of Europe’s digital future we need the full commitment of Member States, the ICT sector and other vital economic players."

Link: Digital Agenda