Member States or regions that are planning to allocate ERDF to investment priorities in ICT and broadband are free to choose how they want to relate digital growth and next generation networks (NGN) to their broader innovation strategies for smart specialisation (S3). They can include Digital Growth policies and references to NGN plans within their broader S3 or they may also decide to develop separate Strategic Policy Frameworks for Digital Growth and NGN plans at national or regional level. What is important is to ensure consistency with their S3 and to align them with other relevant existing documents designed to reinforce the region's or country's competitiveness, improving its social, economic and territorial cohesion while contributing to the objectives set within the DAE and the National Reform Programmes.
If authorities want to develop a separate Strategic Policy Framework for Digital Growth, it should contain i) budgeting and prioritisation of actions through a SWOT or similar analysis consistent with the DAE Scoreboard; ii) an analysis of balancing support for demand and supply of ICT should have been conducted; iii) indicators to measure progress of interventions in areas such as digital literacy, eInclusion, eAccessibility, and progress of eHealth within the limits of Article 168 TFEU which are aligned, where appropriate, with existing relevant sectoral EU, national or regional strategies; and iv) it should assess and identify needs and chart out the obstacles to affordable, good quality and interoperable ICT-enabled private and public services and to higher ICT uptake by citizens (including vulnerable groups, businesses and public administrations as well as cross-border initiatives).
If an authority wants to invest in broadband, it needs to develop national or regional NGN plans which take account of regional actions in order to reach the EU high-speed Internet access targets, focusing on areas where the market fails to provide an open infrastructure at an affordable cost and of a quality in line with EU competition and state aid rules, and to provide accessible services to vulnerable groups. The plan should contain i) an economic analysis taking account of existing private and public infrastructures and planned investments; ii) sustainable investment models that enhance competition and provide access to open, affordable, quality and future proof infrastructure and services; iii) measures to stimulate private investment.