Europe’s Internet of Things Policy

  • April 27, 2021

Internet of Things (IoT) merges physical and virtual worlds, creating smart environments. The European Commission actively cooperates with industry, organisations and academic institutions in order to unleash the potential of the IoT technology across EU Member States and beyond.

Internet of Things (IoT) represents the next step towards the digitisation of our society and economy, where objects and people are interconnected through communication networks and report about their status and/or the surrounding environment.

Europe’s IoT Policy

A set of supporting policy actions have been adopted by the European Commission to accelerate the take-up of IoT and to unleash its potential in Europe for the benefit of European citizens and businesses.

In March 2015 the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation was launched by the European Commission to support the creation of an innovative and industry driven European Internet of Things ecosystem. The European Commission is working closely with AIOTI and all IoT stakeholders and actors towards the establishment of a competitive European IoT market and the creation of new business models. Today the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation is the largest European IoT Association.

The European Commission published in April 2016 the European Commission staff working document “Advancing the Internet of Things in Europe”. This document is part of the “Digitising European Industry” initiative and specifies the EU’s IoT vision which is based on three pillars:

  • a thriving IoT ecosystem;
  • a human-centred IoT approach;
  • a single market for IoT.

For a better understanding of the ecosystem the Cluster Study (2019) has investigated the landscape of physical and virtual clusters of enterprises, research organisations and academia working on the innovation, development and market deployment of IoT technologies and applications.

A potential obstacle for the achievement of a single market for the IoT has to do with issues linked to the capacity to handle a large diversity and very large volumes of connected devices, and the need to securely identify them and be able to discover them so that they can be plugged into IoT systems. In this context it is important to promote an interoperable IoT numbering space for a universal object identification that transcends geographical limits, and an open system for object identification and authentication. Some aspects of numbering are already addressed in the 2016 review of the EU’s telecoms rules.

The “European data economy” initiative (January 2017) also contributes to the creation of a European single market for IoT. This initiative proposes policy and legal solutions concerning the free flow of data across national borders in the EU and liability issues in complex environments such as the IoT one. Especially, liability is decisive to enhance legal certainty around the IoT products and services. To provide a first mapping of liability challenges that occur in the context of emerging digital technologies, including IoT, the European Commission published a staff working document on liability for emerging digital technologies.

IoT research & development and innovation

For the period 2014-2020 under the European Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020, the EU will have invested almost EUR 500 million in Internet of Things-related research, innovation and deployment.
In order to support IoT research and innovation (R&I), Europe promotes the idea of open and easy accessible IoT platforms. In 2016 the ‘IoT European Platform Initiative (IoT-EPI)’ was launched.

The European Commission is currently supporting twelve Large-Scale Pilot projects under the focus area Digitising European Industry in Horizon 2020, with a financial contribution of more than €200 million.