Commissioner Martin Bangemann, Ministers and industrial leaders from the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) met delegates representing European Union industry and research organisations for a one-day conference on the Information Society which took place in Brussels on 23 June 1995. More than 200 representatives from the EU and the CEECs participated in the event. The conference was called to discuss the implications of the Information Society for those CEECs that have, or are negotiating, association agreements with the EU: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia. The participants shared views, experiences and expectations with EU industry, laying the foundations for a continuing dialogue on Information Society developments. The underlying aim is to ensure that CEEC countries are able to fully participate and benefit from the new industrial revolution generated by developments in information and communications technologies. It was recognised that a key priority should be to establish and implement, across the whole of Europe, common principles on regulatory and competition issues. Mr Bangemann, who chaired the forum, emphasised that this is a prerequisite if we are to encourage the required public and private sector investment in infrastructure and services, attract foreign direct investment in the CEECs and promote industrial co-operation between the western and eastern parts of Europe. Both bi-lateral and multi-lateral dialogues on these subjects should be pursued, said Mr Bangemann. In order to inaugurate such multi-lateral dialogue, a meeting of the responsible authorities will be held at the end of 1995 in the framework of the Regulatory and Policy Forum. This forum is to be supported by a PHARE multi-country programme. In order to achieve a structured development of the global Information Society, and to create awareness within the CEECs, Mr Bangemann proposed the following actions: - Launch a promotion campaign to inform citizens in the CEEC about the Information Society. This campaign will include seminars and information events in the CEECs and the provision of relevant publications for the general public; - Encourage the establishment of contact points in the CEECs which would provide and distribute information on EU developments related to the Information Society and stimulate relevant analyses and discussions at a national level. The development of the Information Society is largely dependent on on-going and further research and development. The specific programmes of the Fourth Framework Programme in the field of telematics and information and communication technology, which are now, to a large extent, open to CEEC participation, are substantially oriented towards the Information Society. Mr Bangemann announced that the Commission would be ready to carry out the following actions in the near future: - Encourage greater involvement of CEECs in EU research and development programmes dealing with the priority areas of information technology, advanced communications and telematics applications in the context of the three above-mentioned programmes; - Launch a call for proposals under Activity 2 (R&D co-operation with third countries and international organizations) of the Fourth Framework Programme in autumn 1995. This would include projects and activities in information and communication technologies and telematics applications; - Promote accompanying measures. In particular, to allow CEECs to improve their research funding mechanisms, reduce brain drain and improve contacts within the research communities and with industry; - Launch new activities to facilitate participation of CEECs in international collaborative projects; - Improve the exchange of information between the EU and the CEECs on research priorities, research capabilities and opportunities for co-operation, by using existing tools of the Information Society, such as the World-Wide-Web servers and multimedia databases; - Extend the existing system of the European Information Technology Award to the CEECs to encourage and increase research in this field. Mr Bangemann stressed that the global Information Society required international cooperation, adding that cooperation with the CEECs would be particularly important in order to prepare a common future.
Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia