The European Commission has established a high level group on benchmarking, as part of its initiative to identify critical factors that determine economic success, launched jointly with Member States in July 1997. This initiative currently involves a number of pilot projects implemented by the Commission and Member States to benchmark framework conditions in areas such as innovation financing, skills, logistics, information and communications technologies, and organizational change. The expert group, established in response to a call from Industry Ministers for direct involvement, intends to ensure that all relevant actors in society participate in setting the guidelines and priorities for benchmarking. It will, therefore, cooperate with the Commission in areas such as the interpretation of project results, and will encourage the participation of industry in the implementation of benchmarking projects. The group will also make recommendations for the development of initiatives beyond the current pilot programme, which will be presented to the Industry Council in November 1998. The group has been appointed at the personal invitation of Commissioner Martin Bangemann, and will be chaired by Mr. Björn Svedberg, former chairman of Ericsson. Other members are: - Mr. José Maria Aguirre Gonzalez, President of Banco Guipuzcoano; - Mr. Giorgio Squinzi, of Mapei SpA and President of Federchemica; - Mr. Hanns-Eberhard Schleyer, Zentralverband des deutschen Handwerks; - Mr. Joop Koopman, Member of the Economic and Social Committee of the European Communities; - Mr. Richard Bruton, former Irish Industry Minister. Mr Simon Murphy, MEP, has been nominated by the Parliament as an observer of the group's proceedings.