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THE G-7 INFORMATION SOCIETY PILOT PROJECT

A GLOBAL MARKETPLACE FOR SMES

OBJECTIVES AND FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION


CONTENTS

I INTRODUCTION / II BACKGROUND / III OBJECTIVES / IV PRINCIPLES / V PROJECT STRUCTURE

Theme 1: Global Information Network for SMEs
Theme 2: SME Requirements - Legal, Institutional and Technical
Theme 3: International Testbeds for Electronic Commerce

VI STRUCTURE FOR COORDINATION / VII PARTICIPATION

Ann ex I Theme 1 Action Plan / Annex II Theme 2 Action Plan / Annex III Theme 3 Action Plan


Secretariat | Contact Points | Global Marketplace for SMEs - Home Page


I INTRODUCTION

This document defines the objectives and framework for action of the G-7 Information Society Pilot Project "A Global Marketplace for SMEs". It provides the overall context for the individual component activities.

If particular component activities require specific agreements between the participants these are the responsibility of the participants in the activities themselves. However, no part of any such agreement may contradict any part of this document.

Annexes I , II and III outline the component activities of the project, and will be revised from time to time as the project progresses.

Changes to any part of this document shall only be made with the consensus of the project's Policy Group (see VI below).

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II BACKGROUND

The G-7 members took the opportunity of the G-7 Ministerial Conference on the Information Society held in Brussels on 25 & 26 February 1995 to identify a number of international pilot projects whose aim is to demonstrate the potential of the Information Society and stimulate its development. In this context, the G-7 members noted that small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are the foundation of economic activity and the key to innovation and job creation, but observed that business opportunities for SMEs in the global marketplace are limited by a variety of factors, including difficulties in accessing appropriate information and integrating themselves in global trade. Consequently, the G-7 members launched as one of the projects "A Global Marketplace for SMEs", whose overall objective is to facilitate increased competitiveness and participation in global trade for SMEs by exploiting the opportunities offered by the development of the Global Information Society.

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III OBJECTIVES

The overall objective is to facilitate increased competitiveness and participation in global trade for SMEs by exploiting the opportunities offered by the development of the Global Information Society.

The first specific objective is to contribute to the development of a global electronic environment for the open and non-discriminatory exchange of information (e.g. data on technologies, products, human resources, etc.), overcoming obstacles of distance, time and country borders, for the benefit of SMEs.

The second specific objective is to expand global electronic commerce in order to enable enterprises to carry out their business operations/management more effectively and more profitably.

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IV PRINCIPLES

Private Sector

The project must be driven by the explicit needs of SMEs, who should be consulted on all aspects.

Industry and organisations representing its interests should play the major role in defining and executing the project.

Public Authorities

Public authorities should address the legal and regulatory barriers to a global electronic marketplace, in the framework of an open competitive market.

Public authorities should play a catalytic role, and should promote the widespread awareness and use of electronic commerce by SMEs.

Any privacy or security issue that impacts law enforcement and national security must be addressed under the jurisdiction of the competent public authorities in each participating country.

Approach

Electronic commerce systems should be multilingual and respect the differing cultural backgrounds of users.

The project should take a pragmatic, step-by-step approach.

The project should build on existing activities and organisations, to the extent that this is possible.

Participation

The project should be open to participation by non-G-7 countries and international organisations.

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V PROJECT STRUCTURE

Following a Preparatory Phase during 1995, the project's Implementation Phase spans the three years from 1996 to 1998.

The project is structured according to three themes:

  1. global information network for SMEs ;
  2. SME requirements - legal, institutional and technical ;
  3. international testbeds for electronic commerce .

The Theme 2 activities will also provide a basis for focusing, prioritising and assessing the Theme 1 and 3 activities, so as to ensure that the project as a whole responds to the explicit needs of SMEs. In addition they will provide the basis for coordinating the activities of the project as a whole with related non-project activities.

THEME 1: GLOBAL INFORMATION NETWORK FOR SMES

OBJECTIVES

In line with the first specific objective of the project, Theme 1 will contribute to the development of an open non-discriminatory environment for enabling SMEs to access the information they need and disseminate information on their products, technologies, and so forth, using international information networks.

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THEME 2: SME REQUIREMENTS - LEGAL, INSTITUTIONAL AND TECHNICAL

OBJECTIVES

In the context of the first specific project objective, "to contribute to the development of an open global marketplace for SMEs based on non-discriminatory access to information and electronic commerce", the specific objectives of Theme 2 are as follows:

Theme 2 is thus concerned with:

  1. identifying the issues and requirements that should be addressed by the project as a whole;
  2. determining the priorities for action;
  3. guiding the project's activities (in line with the above issues, requirements and priorities);
  4. launching actions relating to specific systemic issues;
  5. assessing the results of the project's activities.

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THEME 3: INTERNATIONAL TESTBEDS FOR ELECTRONIC COMMERCE

OBJECTIVES

In the context of the second specific objective of the project, "to expand global electronic commerce", the major objectives of Theme 3 are as follows:

Theme 3 will receive information and general guidance from Themes 1 and 2 and will attempt to identify or create testbeds and pilot projects for evaluating/demonstrating their recommendations.

Theme 3 is primarily concerned with evaluating/demonstrating technological approaches, but it also encompasses testbeds and pilot projects concerned with evaluating/demonstrating structures and processes addressing the legal and institutional issues.

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VI STRUCTURE FOR COORDINATION

(a) The European Commission, Japan and the USA are the Coordinators of the project. The three share equally the responsibility of overall project coordination.

(b) The project will be overseen by a group, termed the Policy Group , consisting of Representatives of each of the G-7 countries and the European Commission.

(c) The Secretariat for the Policy Group will be provided by the European Commission.

(d) The Policy Group will conduct its business using electronic means whenever possible. However, it will meet twice yearly during the project's Implementation Phase.

(e) Each Policy Group meeting (and any associated events) will be chaired and organised by the Coordinator that hosts the meeting. In the case that none of the coordinators hosts the meeting, the project coordinators will agree on the chair as appropriate.

(f) A Theme Coordinator will coordinate each of the project's three themes on behalf of the Policy Group. The Theme Coordinator for Theme 1 will be Japan, for Theme 2 the European Commission and for Theme 3 the USA.

(g) Three Regional Contact Points will be designated, one each by the European Commission, Japan and the USA. The Regional Contact Points will be responsible for providing any person or organisation outside the Policy Group with information on the project. The Regional Contact Points will be responsible for specific geographic regions: the European Commission for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the former Soviet Union; Japan for Asia and Australasia; and the USA for the Americas.

The Regional Contact Points will also undertake actions to promote the project as a whole. Specific actions relating to each Theme or individual component activities will be the responsibility of the associated Theme Coordinator or participants in the component activities themselves.

  1. Full contact details for the Coordinators, the Policy Group, the Secretariat , the Theme Coordinators and the Regional Contact Points will be accessible via the Global Information Network for SMEs (see Theme 1 ).

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VII PARTICIPATION

GENERAL

(i) Individuals or organisations from any participating country or international organisation may participate in any activity during the Implementation Phase, provided that they are willing to abide by the project's objectives and framework for action defined in this document and any additional conditions specific to the activity.

(ii) Although the Policy Group consists only of the G-7 countries and the European Commission, individuals or organisations from any participating country or international organisation may be invited to participate in specific meetings of the Policy Group (or any associated events), with the consensus of the Policy Group.

NON-G-7 COUNTRIES AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

(i) Any country or international organisation may participate in the project, provided that they are willing to abide by the objectives and framework for action defined in this document.

(ii) Any country or international organisation that wishes to participate in the project shall inform the appropriate Regional Contact Point (see V above) and provide the contact details of a Representative , with whom the Policy Group and the other Representatives will liase. (This act is taken as "signing-up" to abide by the objectives and framework for action defined in this document.)

The Regional Contact Point will inform the members of the Policy Group and the other Representatives of the new Representative.

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ANNEX I THEME 1 ACTION PLAN

IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

1. Outline

The following will be implemented on the World-Wide Web (WWW).

(a) Japan, as the Theme 1 Coordinator, will create and maintain a WWW "home page", termed the Global Information Network for SMEs , which will provide an entry point for the Global Information Network for SMEs.

The Global Information Network for SMEs will also actively solicit non-participating countries and international organisations to participate in the activity.

(b) Each participating country or international organisation will create its own "home page", known as its SME Information Home Page (just one such "home page" per country or international organisation). Links to each such "home page" will be established from the Global Information Network for SMEs .

(c) The contents of the SME Information Home Page and the categories and contents of the information resources made available by each country or international organisation shall be at the discretion of that country or international organisation. However, in the case of a country, it is intended that the information listed below should be accessible:

2. Languages

(a) The Global Information Network for SMEs Home Page and the SME Information Home Page of each country or international organisation shall be in the English language.

(b) Additional languages may be provided on the SME Information Home Page of each country or international organisation at the discretion of that country or international organisation.

(c) The languages used on pages beyond the SME Information Home Page shall be at the discretion of the associated information resource providers.

3. Home Page Providers

(a) Each participating country or international organisation shall determine the organisation responsible for creating and maintaining its SME Information Home Page, termed the Home Page Provider . (This may be a private or a public sector organisation, or a partnership between organisations from the two sectors).

(b) In the context of items 6 and 7 below, the organisation responsible for the Global Information Network for SMEs Home Page shall also be considered to be a Home Page Provider.

4. Coordination and Consultation

(a) Each participating country or international organisation shall appoint a Global Information Network for SMEs Coordinator , who will serve as the contact point for coordination and consultation on technical issues, and inform Japan (which, as the Theme 1 Coordinator, will inform the other Global Information Network for SMEs Coordinators).

(b) All technical coordination and consultation regarding the Global Information Network for SMEs shall be undertaken via the Global Information Network for SMEs Coordinators.

5. Participation

(a) Any country or international organisation may participate in the Global Information Network for SMEs activity, under the condition that they observe the general objectives and framework for action set out in this document for the project as a whole and the specific additional conditions defined in this annex.

(b) Any country or international organisation that wishes to participate in the Global Information Network for SMEs activity shall inform Japan, as the Theme 1 Coordinator, of the "address" of its SME Information Home Page and of the contact details of its Global Information Network for SMEs Coordinator.

6. Costs

(a) The costs of creating and maintaining the Global Information Network for SMEs Home Page and each SME Information Home Page shall be the responsibility of each associated Home Page Provider.

(b) Access to the Global Information Network for SMEs Home Page and each SME Information Home Page shall be free of charge, except for those costs payable by the accessing party for access to and provision of its network services.

7. Liability

(a) Japan, as the Theme 1 Coordinator, will be responsible for creating and maintaining the Global Information Network for SMEs and for linking the SME Information Home Page of each participating country or international organisation to it.

Likewise the creation and maintenance of each SME Information Home Page and the linking of the information provided shall be the responsibility of the associated Home Page Provider.

However, in the case that the above is not successfully implemented, the participating countries or international organisations and their associated Home Page Providers shall incur neither liability nor indemnity.

(b) No participating country or international organisation or its associated Home Page Provider shall be responsible for any aspect of the information resources accessible via its SME Information Home Page.

Each information resource accessible via the SME Information Home Page is the responsibility of the provider (in respect to maintenance, liability or any claim that could be made in respect to the information resource.).

TIMETABLE

Jan. '96 Japan will set up the Global Information Network for SMEs and an SME Information Home Page in Japan.

Feb. '96 Each participating country or international organisation may provide a SME Information Home Page to be linked to the Global Information Network for SMEs Home Page.

Dec. '96 1 st . review of the Global Information Network for SMEs.

Dec. '97 2 nd . review of the Global Information Network for SMEs.

Dec. '98 Final review of the Global Information Network for SMEs.

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ANNEX II THEME 2 ACTION PLAN

IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

Introduction

On the basis of the Theme 2 objectives, the action plan has two components: one concerned with an ongoing dialogue on SME requirements and the other with specific actions to address particular systemic issues.

The results of the dialogue will provide the framework for guiding and assessing the activities undertaken in the project as a whole.

SME Dialogue

The dialogue will be based on a set of fora involving SMEs (in general via representative organisations) and other key actors (in particular, information and communications systems and service providers, the financial sector, the legal sector, and public authorities). These fora are intended to identify the issues and requirements that should be addressed by the project as a whole, determine the priorities, and stimulate the launch of, or launch directly, appropriate actions.

Initially it is proposed to centre the fora on the tentative list of issues in the Theme 2 objectives:

(i) "Globalisation" (e.g. identification, information services, multi-lingual and
multi-cultural systems, etc.)

(ii) "Financial Aspects" (e.g. contracts, billing, payment, taxation, accounting,
etc.)

(iii) "Ownership" (e.g. intellectual property rights, copyright, etc.)

(iv) Privacy and Security (including confidentiality, authentication, certification,
etc.)

(v) Interconnectivity and Interoperability (including standards, etc.)

(vi) "Deployment" (including awareness, promotion, best practice, education and
training, etc.)

At the end of each year a "Conference on the Global Marketplace for SMEs" will be organised to bring together the set of fora to report and coordinate in a plenary forum.

To implement the action plan the following steps will be taken.

(a) Each participating country or international organisation will nominate a
Theme 2 Local Coordinator responsible for the operational aspects of the Theme 2 activities and inform the European Commission, as the overall
Theme 2 Coordinator.

(b) The Theme 2 Local Coordinators will form the Theme 2 Local Coordinators Group , chaired by the European Commission.

The role of the Theme 2 Local Coordinators Group will be to (i) establish the individual fora and (ii) contribute to the organisation of the annual "Conference on the Global Marketplace for SMEs".

(c) The exact structure and modus operandi of each forum will be the concern of the forum itself.

However, each forum will appoint a Chair , who will be responsible for coordinating the forum's activities with the other fora, through their Chairs and the Theme 2 Local Coordinators Group, and for the forum's participation in the annual "Conference on the Global Marketplace for SMEs".

Specific Actions

According to the results of the dialogue, the fora will either stimulate or launch directly specific actions related to particular systemic issues. These include: raising the awareness and promoting the use of electronic commerce amongst both SMEs and other key actors; the development of solutions to particular systemic issues; the launch of testbeds and pilot projects; standardisation efforts in collaboration with the appropriate international organisations; or recommendations for political action in the context of the appropriate international fora.

TIMETABLE

January '96 Theme 2 Local Coordinators nominated

Spring/ 1 st Working Group Meetings
Summer '96

Dec. '96 1 st Conference on the Global Marketplace for SMEs

Dec. '97 2 nd Conference on the Global Marketplace for SMEs

Dec. '98 3 rd Conference on the Global Marketplace for SMEs

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ANNEX III THEME 3 ACTION PLAN

IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

Selecting Testbeds

Testbeds will be selected according to the following criteria.

The activity should address one (or more) of the issues identified in Theme 2 .

The activity should make a real contribution to the general understanding of how the issue (or issues) could be addressed and advance best practice.

The activity may be based on a commercial product or research project when the activity addresses issues identified in Themes 1 and 2 .

The activity should be of international interest, and involve at least three countries (G-7 or non-G-7) or international organisations.

The activity must involve SMEs (and any other of the key actors necessary, e.g. information and communications systems and service providers, the financial sector, the legal sector, and public authorities).

There should be a commitment to funding, from either or both of the private or public sectors.

Each testbed must commit to self publicity and information dissemination in appropriate fora (e.g. independent journals, conferences, workshops, newsgroups, e-mail, etc.).

Overall, there should be a broad sectorial and Theme-2 -issue coverage.

The Policy Group will review the criteria and the list of testbeds on an ongoing basis.

Testbeds will be selected according to the following process.

i) Any group of at least three representatives from participating countries or international organisations may propose a testbed meeting the above criteria for inclusion in the list at any time. Proposals should be submitted to the USA, as Theme 3 Coordinator, who will distribute copies to the Policy Group.

Proposals should contain the following information:

Together with the proposal, each participant should submit a copy of this 'Objectives and Framework for Action' signed by a duly authorised person attesting that the activity will adhere to the objectives and principles set out herein.

ii) If no objections are raised by any member of the Policy Group, the testbed will be included in the list. If objections are raised, by submitting them to the USA as Theme 3 Coordinator, they will be circulated amongst the Policy Group by the USA as Theme 3 Coordinator. The USA as Theme 3 Coordinator will establish a consensus.

Publishing the List of Testbeds

The USA, as the Theme 3 Coordinator, will maintain a public list of testbeds, which will include a short description of each.

This list will be dynamic with testbeds being added (according to the selection process described above) or deleted (either at the request of the testbeds themselves or with the consensus of the Policy Group) on an ongoing basis.

This list will be accessible from the Global Information Network for SMEs Home Page ( see Theme 1 ).

Testbed descriptions should contain at least the following information:

Testbeds which offer solutions or highlight best practices, with respect to the
Theme 2 issues, will also be promoted by the Theme 1 and Theme 2 Coordinators as appropriate.

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The URL of this document is /esprit/src/smeframe.htm
It was last updated on 15 March 1996, and is maintained by Mike Reeve - (E-mail removed)

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