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ESC opinion on Europe's way to the information society: An action plan

The Economic and Social Committee has published its opinion on the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on "Europe's way to the information society: An action plan". The Commission's action plan covers the following areas: - The regula...

The Economic and Social Committee has published its opinion on the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on "Europe's way to the information society: An action plan". The Commission's action plan covers the following areas: - The regulatory and legal framework: The Committee expressed satisfaction with the Commission's priorities but would like further detailed information. - Network basic services, applications and contents: The Committee considers that it is also necessary to establish links between the ideas of "basic service" and "universal service". This means that the latter will have to evolve and keep pace with technological developments. The Committee also refers to the delays and difficulties encountered in developing the EURO-ISDN network and IDA programme, which gives cause for concern abut possible future applications. The Committee notes that teleworking, distance learning, research networks and healthcare will form the subject of discussions aimed at identifying needs and evaluating costs before field trials are launched and cautions against the risk of creating artificial needs when there is no user demand. - Social, societal and cultural aspects: The Committee identifies the possible danger of an information society developing a two-tier structure with all the social disadvantages that would entail. In this context the ESC emphasizes that it is absolutely essential to define the concept of universal service, and put in place the mechanisms to safeguard and develop this concept throughout Europe. - Promotion of the information society: The Committee hopes that, in the interest of users, the programme will be implemented in a clear transparent manner, will provide information on the risks and opportunities involved in the transition to the information society, and will highlight the importance of new information and communication services for overcoming economic, social and ecological problems.