|Issue:||Europe II 2009|
|Topic:||Romania and the EU innovation agenda|
|Title:||Minister of Communications and Information Society|
Gabriel Sandu is Romania’s Minister of Communications and the Information Society. He has been active in politics for the last ten years, and served as a deputy in the Romanian Parliament until being appointed to his current post. He is currently the Vice President of the Democrat-Liberal Party. Mr Sandu has also served as a member of the Executive Office of the Liberal Party, as the Vice President and secretary general of the UFD and as the President of the UFD, Prahova. Prior to his political career, he was the Vice President SC Elvila International SRL Bucharest, the Chairman of the Tracia Group and the Chief Import-Export Officer at Mizil Relax. Gabriel Sandu graduated from Academy of Economic Studies with a degree in Economics.
Romania is developing a national ICT policy in compliance with EU policies. The “Digital Romania – eStrategy for an Information Society” initiative and the National Broadband Strategy are the keystones of Romania’s ICT efforts. Among its priorities are eGovernment and projects for education, health, culture and tourism and a portal to integrate all cultural, tourist, historical, geographical, religious and territorial administrative information. Improved legislation and infrastructure projects are planned to encourage investment and promote partnerships between ICT sector researchers and academic institutions.
A united European vision is required to develop our society, to modernise it, increase its competitiveness and help it grow in response to the significant transformation of today’s global economy. To comply with the EU’s common objectives, the Romanian Communications and Information Society policies are changing, in accordance with Romania’s specific conditions, to better accompany the changes the Information Society is imposing upon the European region and the world. Romania’s strategic concept In Europe and throughout the world, ICT is considered one of the most efficient and practical means to reduce the effects of the current global crisis. Today, it is important to find solutions for the problems that the crisis is causing by using whatever advantages the Information Society and new technologies can bring to create new jobs. In accordance with our national strategy, ‘Digital Romania – eStrategy for an Informational Society’, we will be promoting a number of specifAic strategies intended to create opportunities and produce added value through new and improved information and communications services. The strategies will be implemented following concrete action plans, which will set forth the specific objectives, responsibilities and the necessary means for developing an information society in Romania. The transition to the Digital Television Strategy will significantly improve the quality of services and extend the range of available services as well. Widespread access to broadband Internet is a critical need; our ‘Information Society for All’ programme intends to double Broadband Internet access in the country. The National Broadband Strategy is the subject of a comprehensive document now being refined and elaborated. The document will include an analysis of Romania’s ICT needs, set forth the general principles, major goals and strategic objectives for ICT development, and provide an action plan for the implementation of widespread broadband access. Taking into account the importance and large scale applications of this strategy, we are consulting all the partners and players in the market prior to completing the document. In parallel, we intend to implement the eRomania project – with strong eGovernance and eTax components – in an integrated, distinct and coherent manner. All of these initiatives and actions are being undertaken as part of our commitments as a European Union member; we are developing the domestic ICT market in full compliance with the applicable European Union market rules. Priorities To ensure the effective and practical implementation of our strategic programmes for Information Society technologies, we have identified several priorities for future action. Within an integrated framework, our main priority is to provide all Romanian and European citizens with access to public information and give them the ability to obtain any specific document, instantly, by using online eGovernment services. The National Broadband Strategy is currently a high priority because it can generate added value and new jobs. Our strategic action priorities are directly connected to the relevant European Union anti-crisis programme elements such as investment in developing our broadband Internet infrastructure. Another priority is the enhancement of integrated services; this will create conditions for interoperability between the systems of various national institutions and the development of both the Information Society and of a national information and communications technology (ICT) competence cluster. The ITC sector has a significant growth rate and it is an important contributor to our GDP. It also represents a very attractive field for both foreign investments and for players in the local market who have developed into regional leaders. In this context, broadband communications represent an important factor in the progress towards a new knowledge-based economy; it contributes to economic development, helps create new jobs and improves the quality of life. Together with a number of other public authorities, we will finalize and implement a number of eGovernance projects in the fields of education, health, culture and tourism. The eEducation project will provide for the translation all of the school curricula into an electronic format and will help modernize educational instruments. The eEducation project is likely to become one of the most popular widely used features of the eRomania programme. The eRomania project will also create a portal to integrate all cultural, tourism, historical, geographical, religious and territorial administrative information. The portal will also centralise all types of information useful to the citizen and give them access to public electronic services available from national and local sources. We are working on a range of projects to improve legislation and have identified the infrastructure projects needed to encourage ICT investors. One of our priorities in this respect is to stimulate the search for innovation solutions to market, technological and social needs by encouraging cooperation and partnerships between ICT sector research and development activities and academic institutions. Strengthening relations with strategic operators is an important priority for the Romanian government, especially during this time of crisis when it is especially important to maintain existing jobs and create new ones by encouraging private initiative. The digital divide that exists between the urban and rural areas and between generations is an important problem in Romania. The problem of eSkills is a sensitive one; it will be necessary to educate the population, to help evolve the public mentality, and to help citizens understand and develop the ability to use new information technologies. The development of user-friendly, native language, applications and content will be a vital part of any programme designed to accelerate the popular adoption of ICT-based services. The absolute necessity for the insertion of ICT within the educational process and the lives of citizens is obvious. The use of information technologies is making firm progress and the ability and willingness of citizens to use these technologies in their everyday lives is increasing, but an increased focus on training people to make effective use of Information Society tools is still a vital priority. The development of programmes that promote the widespread use of ICT will lead to more efficient solutions for many of the daily problems our citizens face and improve the quality of the lives they lead.