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Bangemann Group report on the global information society

The Bangemann Group, which was set up in December 1993, has now prepared a summary of recommendations entitled "Europe and the global information society", which provides a preview of the report to be submitted to the European Council. The report suggests that Member States s...

The Bangemann Group, which was set up in December 1993, has now prepared a summary of recommendations entitled "Europe and the global information society", which provides a preview of the report to be submitted to the European Council. The report suggests that Member States should accelerate the ongoing process of liberalizing the telecommunications sector by: - Opening up infrastructure and services still in the monopoly area to competition; - Removing non-commercial burdens and budgetary constraints imposed on telecommunications operators; - Setting clear timetables and deadlines for the implementation of practical measures to achieve these goals. Other recommendations include: The interconnection of networks and the interoperability of services and applications should be primary Union objectives. The European standardization process should be reviewed in order to increase its speed and market responsiveness. International long-distance and leased-line tariffs should be adjusted to bring them into line with the rates in other advanced industrialized regions. The adjustment should be accompanied by the sharing of public service obligations among operators. Public awareness should be promoted. Particular attention should be paid to small and medium-sized businesses, public administrations and the younger generation. The openness of the European market should find its counterpart in other world markets and networks. It is of paramount importance for Europe that adequate steps be taken to guarantee equal access. Action at Union level should establish a common regulatory framework for the protection of intellectual property rights and the privacy and security of information in Europe (and, where appropriate, internationally). Intellectual property protection must rise to the new challenges of globalization and multimedia applications. This must continue to be a high priority at both European and international level. Without the legal security of a Union-wide approach, lack of consumer confidence will certainly undermine the rapid development of the information society. A rapid decision from Member States is required on the Commission's proposed Directive setting out general principles for data protection. Work at European level on electronic and legal protection and security should be accelerated. Divergent national legislation on media ownership must not undermine the internal market and effective rules should emerge to protect pluralism and competition which is a key element in Europe's strategy. Priority must be given to the extension of the availability of EURO-ISDN (in line with current Commission proposals) as well as the necessary reductions in tariffs. The Bangemann Group calls on the Council to support the implementation of European broad-band infrastructure and secure itsçmbectivity with the whole of European cable television, satellite and telecommunications networks. A European broad-band steering committee could be set up to develop a common vision and to monitor and facilitate the development of the information society through, in particular, demonstrations and definitions of standards. On the subject of mobile and satellite communications the Group proposes the following: - Tariffs for mobile communications should be reduced; - Global systems for mobile communications (GSMs) should be promoted in Europe and internationally; - A regulatory framework for satellite communications should be established; - European satellite industry should be urged to develop common priority projects and to participate actively in the development of worldwide systems. The provision and widespread use of trans-European, standard, basic services, including electronic mail, file transfer and video services, should be promoted by coherent action at both European and Member State levels. The Commission should initiate the creation of a European forum for basic services to accelerate the availability of unified standards. Initiatives in the field of applications are the most effective means of addressing the slow take-off of supply and demand. The following projects have been identified: - Teleworking; - Distance learning; - University and research networks; - Telematic services for SMEs; - Road traffic management; - Air traffic control; - Healthcare networks; - Electronic tendering; - A trans-European public administration network; - City information highways. The creation of the information society should be entrusted to the private sector and to market forces. Existing public funding should be directed to target its requirements. At Union level, this may require reorientation of current allocations under such headings as the Fourth Framework Programme for research and development and the Structural Funds. There must be, at Union level, a council capable of dealing with the full range of issues associated with the information society. Each Member State could nominate a single minister to represent it in a council of ministers dedicated to the information society. A board with members from all relevant sectors, including the social partners, should be established to work on a framework for implementing the information society and to promote public awareness of its opportunities and challenges. This board would report at regular intervals to the EU institutions on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the final report.