Article | Last updated: 24/03/2015 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
There is growing recognition that information and communications technology (ICT) and electronic communication are drivers of economic growth. Through the EEA Agreement, Norway is part of the EU’s internal market for telecommunications and postal services. Moreover, the various initiatives under the Digital Agenda for Europe are important for Norway, and we participate in several key programmes in the ICT area.
Developments in the field of ICT have a bearing on many different sectors and issues, including education, the cultural and media sector, business development, conditions of competition, and protection of privacy. In addition, ICT is used in new products and for solving tasks in all sectors and all kinds of activities, including health services, telecommunications services, electricity supply and traffic control.
EU cooperation and policy in the ICT and telecommunications area
The EU has developed extensive legislation for the telecommunication services market, which also includes rules for radio spectrum management and rules for maximum prices for phone calls made and received while abroad (roaming). The telecoms package of 2003 has created equal conditions for competition in a growing European telecoms market. Legislation in this area also covers large areas of the information society outside the telecoms sector. It includes rules for electronic commerce (e-commerce), the protection of personal data and the use of public data. Through the adoption of the third postal directive, the EU has established an internal postal market.
In the EU, the ICT area is seen as a strategic policy area, and increasingly as a driver of economic development. The use of ICT is increasing competitiveness for European companies and enhancing participation and influence in democratic processes for EU citizens. This is the starting point for the Commission’s strategy document for ICT policy for the period 2010–2020, A Digital Agenda for Europe. The Digital Agenda for Europe is the first of seven flagship initiatives under the EU’s comprehensive strategy for jobs and growth, Europe 2020, and it aims to create a digital single market in the EU. Key priority areas include the expansion of high-speed broadband networks, developing cross-border digital public services, and increasing the competitiveness of the European ICT sector. Open Internet and net neutrality are also important issues on the digital agenda.
Most of ICT policy is a national responsibility. The EU’s policy in this area has therefore tended to focus on drawing up strategies and the exchange of experience, as well as on various support schemes for promoting development and innovation. The EU programmes in the field of ICT are of central importance in this context. Legislation is also being developed in a number of areas, such as e-signature, e-commerce and the regulation of internet service providers.
Association with the EU through the EEA Agreement
Through the EEA Agreement, Norway is part of the EU’s internal market for telecommunications and postal services. The various initiatives under the Digital Agenda for Europe are also important for Norway, and Norway is covered by legislation in this area through our participation in the internal market. The EEA Agreement covers legislation in the telecommunications sector, radio spectrum management, and e-commerce and e-signature.
Participation in EU programmes and agencies
Norway participates in three EU programmes in the field of ICT that give rise to many of the projects under the EU’s Digital Agenda for Europe. By participating in these programmes, Norway gains access to important parts of the policy development processes in this field.
- The ICT part of the EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), the Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme (ICT–PSP), aims to stimulate a wider uptake of innovative ICT-based services in areas such as health and energy efficiency.
- The Safer Internet Programme aims to promote safe use of the Internet by children and young people.
- The programme Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations (ISA) supports collaboration between European public administrations, and aims to remove obstacles to electronic communication between public authorities at all levels.
Norway also participates in the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), which is working to enhance the ability of the European Commission, the member states and the business community to prevent, identify and respond to threats to network and information security.
Norway participates in the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), which assists the Commission in ensuring the consistent implementation of the EU regulatory framework in member states.
The Norwegian authorities participate in the European Commission’s expert groups and have an observer role on committees in the telecommunications area.
- The Ministry of Transport and Communications heads the special committee on telecommunications, which includes participants from other ministries. The committee’s main task is to clarify Norway’s position on EEA-relevant legislation.
- The Norwegian authorities also participate in the EFTA working groups on Electronic Communication, Audiovisual Services and Information Society (ECASIS) and Postal Services.
National experts in the European Commission
Contact information for all the Norwegian national experts can be found on the EFTA Secretariat’s website.