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New Action Plan for global information society

Commenting on the recent adoption of the action plan on the global information society, Commissioner Bangemann said the race is on at global level and those countries which adapt themselves sooner rather than later will set the technological standards for other countries to fo...

Commenting on the recent adoption of the action plan on the global information society, Commissioner Bangemann said the race is on at global level and those countries which adapt themselves sooner rather than later will set the technological standards for other countries to follow. He also called for proper worldwide coordination mechanisms, especially in the field of standardization, intellectual property and data protection. Following the recommendations of the Bangemann report on the global information society in May this year, the key initiatives of the action plan will have a considerable bearing on the way Europeans work and live. The recommendations cover the regulatory and legal aspects of Europe's communications facilities, the establishment of trans-European networks, services and applications, and social and cultural considerations. A central theme of the Bangemann report is the optimization of market forces and private sector involvement. The Commission is committed to establishing the necessary conditions for a competitive environment. To this end the stability of the internal market will hold the key to Europe's sustained and competitive advantage. Amongst the measures which will be adopted are the following: . The Commission will seek an agreement among Member States on a clear deadline for liberalizing telecommunications infrastructure. This commitment will complement the Council's decision of last year to liberalize voice telephony by 1998. . The Commission will organize, in November 1994, a major workshop on standardization, the interconnection of networks and the interoperability of services, as a requirement for the development of a European information infrastructure. . The Commission will publish a report before January 1996 on guaranteeing a universal service and its financing. . The Commission will start infringement procedures against those Member States who have not transposed the European Directive on tariff structures into national law. Tariffs for leased lines must be cost-orientated and cost-accounting systems must be verifiable. . A Green Paper on intellectual property rights will be prepared in the coming months. . A Green Paper on the legal protection of encrypted broadcasts is being prepared. . A communication on the follow-up to the Green Paper on "Pluralism and media concentration in the internal market" will be presented shortly. The 1989 "Television without frontiers" Directive will be reviewed in the autumn. In addition, Commissioner Bangemann stressed that international dialogue must be intensified, in particular with the USA, Japan, Canada, Central and Eastern Europe and the most advanced developing countries in order to discuss issues of interest to all partners. The G7 meeting in Naples agreed to convene a conference on the worldwide information infrastructure involving the relevant ministers in Brussels. The Commission will organize this conference in November 1994. The private sector is to play a leading role in providing the investments to meet the challenges of the information society. For its part, the Commission will act as a catalyst in raising public awareness of the opportunities available, in stimulating public and private sector partnerships, and in sponsoring targeted trans-European projects. Action by the Commission will include the further development of advanced European communication networks and services. It proposes the establishment of a European forum for basic services which will set the way for a European approach to the introduction of basic services such as e-mail, file transfer and interactive video. In order to support the application areas proposed in the Bangemann report, round tables and conferences will be organized to stimulate cross-sectoral partnerships. The Commission will also provide financial support under the Fourth Framework Programme and will invite Member States to finance pilot experiment projects and infrastructure initiatives under the Structural Funds. An information society project office will be established as the interface between the Commission and the outside world, in particular for industry, the research community and service providers. In order to reinforce the competitiveness of European industry, the follow-up to the audiovisual Green Paper will address regulatory aspects, incentive mechanisms and the convergence of national support systems. At the same time, possible social and economic discrepancies must be avoided. These issues will be addressed via a number of activities. The Commission will launch studies in collaboration with other bodies such as the OECD on guidelines for economic and social adaptation to the new technologies, and new sources of employment. The consequences for regional, economic and social cohesion will also be assessed. By January 1995, the Commission will present a communication identifying ways to overcome cultural fragmentation and stimulate the emerging language-based industries.

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