1. The aim of this Initiative is to encourage the vigorous growth of electronic commerce in Europe. In the Communication
Services to Work
importance of electronic commerce was emphasised, as was the Commission's commitment to make Europe the heartland of electronic commerce.
2. This Communication builds on the Commission's work on the Information Society to date
a coherent policy framework for future Commission actions in the field of electronic commerce, and seeks to raise awareness and stimulate dialogue between all parties at all levels.
3. The expansion of electronic commerce will be market-driven. Europe is well placed to capitalise on the global business opportunities now opening up. The completion of the Single Market, the development of Europe's know-how and skills, and the introduction of the Euro create the strengths for the European economy and European businesses to be at the forefront of the emerging global electronic marketplace. The challenge is to promote widespread adoption of electronic commerce as an integral part of the European way of doing business.
4. This Initiative builds on the particular characteristics of European business and the diversity of its social and cultural fabric to present a distinctive and coherent European approach to the development of electronic commerce in the global marketplace. The key elements of the Initiative are the following:
Promote the technology and infrastructure needed to ensure the competitiveness of the European electronic commerce industry, and put in place structures that will provide efficient access systems for existing and potential users. This will be pursued by ensuring the effective implementation of a fully competitive telecommunications market and by harnessing and refocusing R&D efforts so that Europe's high level of scientific and technological capability can be translated more successfully into marketable products and services. It will also be ensured by encouraging a broad consensus on standards and on the interoperability of electronic market systems.
Capitalise on the Single Market by ensuring a coherent regulatory framework for electronic commerce in Europe and in wider global markets. This framework needs to boost the trust and confidence of businesses for investments and consumers to make use of electronic commerce by dismantling remaining legal and regulatory barriers and preventing the creation of new obstacles.
Foster a favourable business environment for electronic commerce by promoting adequate skills, and by making consumers and industry aware of the opportunities offered by electronic commerce. This will be realised through training, information and demonstration projects; by exploiting synergies between government and industries; and by leveraging specific European strengths, in terms of technologies, markets, linguistic and cultural diversity.
Work towards global consensus from a common European position to ensure effective participation in current international cooperation and negotiations. Europe should identify its own strengths and interests and argue accordingly in the international forums and groups best suited for this purpose.
This Initiative provides a coherent framework for these mutually reinforcing technological, regulatory and support actions to facilitate the development of the electronic commerce market whilst adequately safeguarding public interest objectives. The political objective of the Commission is to implement this coherent framework, as a matter of urgency, by the year 2000.