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Telework stimulation and impact assessments

At the European Summit in Copenhagen, the President of the European Commission highlighted the importance of rapid development of new frameworks for cooperation between businesses in Europe and the creation of a common information space within which decentralized economic acti...

At the European Summit in Copenhagen, the President of the European Commission highlighted the importance of rapid development of new frameworks for cooperation between businesses in Europe and the creation of a common information space within which decentralized economic activity can develop through interactions between small businesses. He stressed the need to create a European network of training facilities for new skills and the need to encourage distance working. The development of distance working, "telework", can help to give industry new competitive advantages: it can contribute to easing some of the environmental pressures and can introduce a new flexibility into the employment market, without detracting from the achievements of social policies in the Member States of the European Union. In the context of EC actions related to advanced communications developments, the Commission issued a call for proposals in June 1993 (Official Journal No C 173 of 24.6.1993). This resulted in 122 proposals being received, representing a total value of work of ECU 38.2 million and requesting Community funding of ECU 29.3 million. Following the technical evaluation, 28 proposals were recommended to be accepted or retained with modification. The proposals that best contribute to European economic growth, industrial competitiveness and new employment were selected by a Commission Decision of 19 November 1993. They include: Trials and demonstration projects: - WORKNET: Telework applications in large, medium and small industrial enterprises; - PROLINK: A professional telework link for safe nuclear power plant management; - TWIN: Teleworking infrastructure for the impaired: - OFFNET: European networked neighbourhood offices; - EXPUN: Experts unlimited (delivery of professional services via telework links); - HRM.T.C.: Development of a telework centre network specialized in human resource management; - RECITE: Remote electronic construction industry telematics experiment; - SBN: Small business networking; - EVONET: European virtual office network; - EBNET: Development of small business networking; - TESSE: Telework experiments in services for small enterprises; - RITE: Regional infrastructure for teleworking; - TELEURBA: Telework and urban and inter-urban traffic decongestion. Supporting and coordination actions: - COBRA: Constraints and opportunities in business restructuring (developing a consistent approach to business process re-engineering as a precursor to the introduction of telework arrangements into organizations); - ATTICA: Analysis of transborder telework in the European Economic Area; - PLATO: Platforms and tools for transborder telework systems; - PRACTICE: Code of practice for telework in Europe; - REGIODESK: The collection and distribution of information on telework projects and initiatives through a single support centre connected to a network of regional help desks; - ADVANCE: Advancement of the EC telework forum (coordination of national and regional initiatives and developments reinforcing exchanges of information in the European Economic Area, extending geographical coverage into some countries of Central and Eastern Europe and contributing to the establishment of a common training resource base for European organizations); - TELDET: Telework departments and trends (generating reliable information on telework practice in all Member States). Analysis actions: - METIER: Macro-economic and trade impacts of advanced communications; - AD-EMPLOY: Employment trends; - ACCORDE: Advanced communications for cohesion, regional development and employment; - CLEAN: Environmental benefits of the correct introduction of advanced communications (for support in 1994, subject to budget availability); - PEBAC: Potential environmental benefits of advanced communications (to be supported in 1994, subject to budget availability). These proposals illustrate the range of situations and sectors in which managed telework can contribute to both economic development and a new flexibility in employment. The trials and demonstrations cover a wide range of new employment opportunities, from networks of telework centres for the disabled to the collaboration of highly trained engineers in nuclear power plants. They aim to demonstrate the opportunities and advantages of the decentralization of employment to less favoured regions, particularly rural areas, and new opportunities for employment within the European Union in the provision of specialized services to developing countries. These trials and demonstrations will be accompanied by a comprehensive analysis of the legal and regulatory constraints to telework across international borders within the European Economic Area, and by assessments of the potential macro-economic impacts, trade impacts and change in employment patterns. The development of telework is associated with the current activity in "business process engineering". An analysis of the approaches undertaken in four Member States will contribute to the harmonization of approaches and to a better understanding of business re-engineering. The reinforced actions for stimulation of telework will be coordinated through the Telework Forum, an independent European Economic Interest Group (EEIG) in which all national and regional coordinating bodies are involved.

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