Note for navigation with support technologies: in this page you find 3 main elements: search engine (shortcut key 1); the highlights at the main area of the page (shortcut key 2) e main menu (shortcut key 3).

Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC)
Home  > Inclusion and Accessibility  > News  > Ministerial Meeting on European e-Inclusion Policy

Ministerial Meeting on European e-Inclusion Policy

 - 25/11/2007

EU Portuguese Presidency logo – Science, Technology and Higher Education In the scope of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, the e-Inclusion Ministerial Debateis being held on 2nd-3rd December 2007 at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon. It is being jointly organised by Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) and by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Information Society & Media. The Conference Handbook contains information on speakers and the exhibition of projects, which is running in parallel to the conference, as well as the schedule for the corresponding workshops.

This meeting will be chaired by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, José Mariano Gago and the Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, and 20 ministers or secretaries of state from the EU’s other Member States will be present.

The objective of the Ministerial meeting is to consider the next steps towards achieving decentralised e-Inclusion initiatives in Member States in the light of the most recent political decisions in the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, especially the recent Commission publication European i2010 initiative on e-Inclusion - to be part of the information society of 8th November 2007.

A Meeting of the Ministers for e-Inclusion from the EU’s Member States will be held in the afternoon of 2nd November. The Commission will also be present and aspects of national and European e.-Inclusion policies will be presented and discussed.

The e-Inclusion Ministerial Debate will be formally closed by the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education. The EU Presidency Conclusions will be made available after an intervention by the President of Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), and an intervention by the European Commission’s Deputy Director General for Information Society and Media.

Videos of the plenary sessions and the parallel sessions held in the same room are available.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are creating new opportunities for European citizens, enabling them to obtain better qualified jobs, easier access to information and services, new forms of social interaction and new ways of dealing with governments. These technologies are assuming an increasingly important role in people’s daily lives, in how they communicate, how they work, how they obtain information and educate and how they use their free time.

A report published by the European Commission on 8th November 2007 (MeAC - Measuring Progress of eAccessibility in Europe – Assessment of the Status of eAccessibility in Europe) shows that there has been limited progress in achieving European eAccessiblility targets. More than one in three Europeans is excluded from the opportunities offered by ICT. The social and economic implications are huge and affect everyone. In today’s society, access to information is more than a right: it is an essential condition for progress and prosperity. It is a social obligation, as well as also being an economic opportunity, to include the millions of citizens in risk of being left behind without the ability to use ICT for their own benefit.

Objectives and steps were agreed at a meeting of Ministers in Riga, Estonia, in June 2006 (ICT for an Inclusive Society). These are expressed in the Riga Ministerial Declaration on e-Inclusion. Despite numerous and valid efforts and initiatives, the progress achieved since then has taken place at approximately half the necessary pace to achieve the targets agreed on in this Declaration.

Consequently, promoting e-Inclusion is a priority of the utmost importance for Europe. Including as many people as possible in the Information Society will offer a threefold opportunity: better quality of life for citizens, lower costs for society, and more economic and business opportunities.

In addition to the afore-mentioned European Commission publication, another publication will soon be released on specific legislation regarding “E-Accessibility”.

Furthermore, the Council of the European Union’s Competitiveness Council met on 23rd November 2007 in Brussels, chaired by the Portuguese Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education, José Mariano Gago and, among other resolutions, approved the European initiative to develop new applications for information technology to improve the quality of life of the elderly (AAL – Ambient Assisted Living), which is also part of the information and communication technologies inclusion objectives.

Additionally, the Council of the European Union’s Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, which includes Information Society policies, is scheduled to approve the “Ageing Well in the Information Society” conclusions, following the Commission Communication  Ageing well in the Information Society An i2010 Initiative Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing of 14th June 2007.

Inclusion and Accessibility are priority policies for the Portuguese Government as part of the Connecting Portugal action plan for the Information Society, itself part of the Technological Plan, and linked to the PAIPDI – Action Plan for the Integration of Disabled or Handicapped People approved by the Council of Ministers’ Resolution of 17th January 2007.

Of note is Portugal's participation in the Ambient Assisted Living Association, which was set up in Brussels on 19th September 2007 to manage European R&D projects in the area of intelligent ambient assisted living based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), which shall be co-funded under the European Union’s Research Framework Programme. Portugal is represented in this association by Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), which joins as one of the founding members.

Under the Partnerships for the Future scheme, as part of the Fraunhofer-Portugal Programme, the first FhG – Fraunhofer Gesellschaft institute outside Germany will be set up in Portugal, specialising precisely in the field of Ambient Assisted Living.

Furthermore, there are projects such as the Access Programme, Solidarity Network and Internet Spaces Network, provided by Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), and legislative initiatives such as the recent Council of Ministers’ Resolution of 27th September 2007, which established that all Government Internet sites and those of the central Government would have to satisfy the A level conformity for accessibility criteria (respectively, AA level for transactional sites) laid down in the scope of the W3C – World Wide Web Consortium’s WAI – Web Accessibility Initiative within three and six months respectively.

Last updated ( 16/07/2010 )