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Stimulating the production of European digital content: the eContent Programme (2001-04)

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Stimulating the production of European digital content: the eContent Programme (2001-04)

The Community eContent programme (2001-04) - for European digital content on the global networks - part-finances transnational projects on the provision of public information in digital form and multilingual digital content. It stimulates access to and use of high-quality digital products and services. This programme forms part of the eEurope 2002


Council Decision 2001/48/EC of 22 December 2000 adopting a multiannual Community programme to stimulate the development and use of European digital content on the global networks and to promote linguistic diversity in the information society.


The production of digital content is a phenomenon which will radically change the conditions of access to knowledge. It constitutes an essential asset for economic growth, enterprise and employment, as it enhances professional, social and cultural development, as well as the creativity and innovative capacity of the citizens of Europe. In this regard, the Council of the European Union adopted the eContent programme for a period of 4 years, to stimulate the development, distribution and use of European digital content and promote linguistic diversity on the global networks.


The objectives of the eContent programme are as follows:

  • helping to stimulate Internet use and Internet access for all by increasing the availability of European digital content on the global networks;
  • stimulating access to European digital content and promoting more effective use of information held by the public sector;
  • promoting cultural diversity and multilingualism in digital content on the global networks and increasing the export opportunities of European content firms through cultural and linguistic customisation;
  • creating favourable conditions for the reduction of market fragmentation and for the marketing, distribution and use of European digital content on the global networks to stimulate economic activity and employment.

Lines of action

In order to achieve the objectives of the programme, three types of action will be taken:

  • Improving access to and use of public sector information. The programme gives priority to experimental projects that can be used as examples of good practice and which make it possible to identify practical problems in public/private partnerships (adopting common standards, providing reliable public information for businesses and citizens, etc.).
  • Enhancing content production in a multilingual and multicultural environment. This is a matter of fostering new partnerships and adopting multilingual and multicultural strategies, and of strengthening the linguistic infrastructure (developing the use of digital technology by language centres, experimenting with IT tools such as translation software and developing new resources, particularly language databases and multilingual glossaries).
  • Revitalising the digital content market. The objective in this case is to promote rights trading between players in the digital content market (pilot projects for authorising multimedia rights, establishing rights clearance centres) and to develop a common vision between the public and the private sector (gathering statistics, promoting best practice, etc.).


The programme applies to public information in digital form in areas such as culture, education, social policy, geographical data, business, the environment and tourism. Priority is given to projects addressing less widely spoken European languages and Eastern European languages. Projects using other European languages must be justified in terms of common interest and must have a multiplier effect.


Every legal, private or public person in the eligible countries (European Union, Member States of the European Economic Area and candidate countries) may participate in the eContent programme. Projects must include at least two legal entities, independent of one another, established in at least two different Member States, or in one Member State and one associated country.

Eligibility conditions for projects

In order to qualify for financial assistance within the framework of eContent, projects must help to raise the barriers that prevent the establishment and functioning of the single market in the field of digital content. They must also have a cross-sectoral and transnational element, act as multipliers and be user-oriented.


The financial reference amount for the implementation of the programme is EUR 100 million, allocated as follows:

  • shared-cost projects: a maximum of EUR 2.5 million per project and 50% of the costs for a maximum period of 30 months;
  • definition-phase projects: a maximum of EUR 0.2 million per project and 50% of the costs for a maximum period of 12 months;
  • accompanying measures: a maximum of EUR 1 million per project and 100% of the costs for a maximum period of 36 months.


The programme is based on calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. The European Commission selects projects in consultation with a committee of experts from the Member States.

The last call for proposals within the framework of eContent closed in May 2004.



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2001/48/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2000/0128]



OJ L 14, 18.1.2001



Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 29 January 2007 - Final evaluation of the results obtained in implementing the multiannual Community programme to stimulate the development and use of European digital content on the global networks and to promote linguistic diversity in the information society (eContent) [COM(2007) 29 final - not published in the Official Journal].

This final evaluation, conducted by independent experts, concludes that the eContent programme "was successfully implemented". The programme contributed to enhancing the role of digital content as a means of increasing access by citizens to information. It also made it possible to promote diverse digital content and services, as well as the economic and social development of European Businesses.

The conclusions reached in the evaluation have led to some recommendations being made for future programmes. In particular, they emphasise the need to:

  • allocate greater resources to networking, concertation between projects and disseminating best practices;
  • monitor the development of the market (in this case, the European digital content market) to make it easier to adapt programmes to developments in the sector and to evaluate the results of the projects.

eCONTENTplus (2005-08)

Decision No 456/2005/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2005 establishing a multiannual Community programme to make digital content in Europe more accessible, usable and exploitable [OJ L 79, 24.3.2005].

The eContentplus programme (2005-08) has taken over from the eContent programme, which expired at the end of 2004. Just like its predecessor, eContentplus aims to stimulate the development of European digital content, but it is more targeted, as it focuses on three areas: geographical information, educational material and cultural content.

See also

More information on the eContent programme (EN).

Last updated: 14.02.2007