4. Evaluation process
4.1 Impact assessments
Impact assessments are prepared by the European Commission for its various programmes. Moreover, impact assessments propose new initiatives that assess the potential economic, social and environmental consequences that the programmes may have, by setting out the advantages and disadvantages of possible policy options.
Within the Safer Internet Programme framework, one impact assessment has been carried out, addressing the successive Safer Internet Action Plan (1999-2004) and Safer Internet Plus (2005-2008) programmes. In this impact assessment, the European Commission outlined the present situation in terms of existing legislation and actions undertaken, lessons learnt and next objectives, as well as strategic policy options for a new programme proposal. It accompanied the Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council and establishing a multiannual Community programme on protecting children using the internet and other communication technologies (the third phase of the programme, the Safer Internet Community Programme).
In order to provide a comprehensive follow up on the existing programme decisions and projects in the Safer Internet framework, a Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions (COM/2003/0653 final) concerning the evaluation of the Action plan for a Safer Internet (1999-2002) was published in 2003. This first evaluation put the pillars of the following stage of the programme as the European Parliament and Council decided to extend it for a further two years from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2004. This communication was followed by a Final evaluation of the implementation of the multiannual Community action plan on promoting safer use of the internet by combating illegal and harmful content on global networks /* COM/2006/0663 final */ monitoring the programme from 1999 to 2004.
In these evaluations, the Action plan for a Safer Internet was perceived as successfully implemented with the attribution of the grants and the management of the programme being in general transparent, efficient and satisfactory. More broadly, the Safer Internet Programme was seen by all stakeholders as a relevant and effective programme which should continue, with the European Union seen as a pioneer which identified at an early stage the issue of illegal and harmful content on the internet as a serious and important political question of a global dimension.
Later on, the Final evaluation of the implementation of the multiannual Community Programme on promoting safer use of the internet and new online technologies /* COM/2009/0064 final */ concluded that the Safer Internet Plus Programme (2005-2008) had also achieved its objectives. Specifically, the evaluation indicated that the programme had managed to adapt to changing needs and to include the new Member States in its scope, particularly within the INHOPE and Insafe networks. Important data had been collected, which has made it possible to improve safety on the internet. Dialogue between stakeholders has been facilitated, and mobile operators have been encouraged in their self-regulatory initiatives for the protection of minors.
4.3 Benchmarking tools
In the context of the European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children (BIK) with the Safer Internet Programme continuing under the Connecting Europe Facility as a Digital Services Infrastructure, it became necessary to have available a comprehensive panorama including not just the overall European perspective on BIK, but referring also to specific national policies.
Within this context, the study ‘Benchmarking of Safer Internet policies in Member States' was carried out with the main objective of providing a comprehensive analysis of how BIK-related challenges are addressed in policies and initiatives, and to develop a sustainable benchmarking tool - the ‘Better Internet for Kids Map - BIK Map' for future policy work on European level.
The purpose of the study was to set up a framework for analysing Better Internet for Children public policies covering EU Member States and also Norway and Iceland. Furthermore, the BIK Map tool allows for the analysis of public policies in terms of governance and the actions taken by the EU countries in their BIK-related policies and, based on the main findings, offered concrete recommendations addressing both the European Commission and the EU countries.
By facilitating the exchange of experiences on BIK policies and actions and acting as a tool for learning, the BIK Map also set the baseline for future benchmarking exercises and maps out the current state of BIK-related policy governance and initiatives in the Member States.
A second report was published in March 2018 to review progress made. The second version of the study saw 26 countries contribute with data collected from national teams drawn from the EU Kids Online network and Insafe Safer Internet Centres (SICs). The resulting data analysis and report examined factors such as policy coordination, policy design and policy actors, while also establishing the spread of BIK activities across the five pillars and identifying good practices in the participating countries.
A third iteration is due for publication in late 2020.