On 30 June 1995 the European Commission formally approved the proposal for a multiannual Community programme, INFO2000, to stimulate the development of a European multimedia content industry and to encourage the use of multimedia content in the emerging information society. INFO2000 is a programme of DG XIII (Telecommunications, Information Market and Exploitation of Research) to encourage Europe's information providers to develop new multimedia products and services and to stimulate user demand for these products and services. It will focus on the transition from print to electronic publishing and on the interactive multimedia services that are currently emerging. The programme will be managed by DG XIII/E in Luxembourg and will run for a period of four years (1996-1999). The budget proposed for INFO2000 is ECU 100 million. Information is the key to the emerging global information society and information infrastructure. The EU's information sector has many strengths: overall market size and population, the presence of world-ranking information and media conglomerates, a long-established publishing tradition, a rich information content base, large established markets in key industrial sectors and a rich cultural and linguistic diversity. The European information industry is, however, also faced with a number of barriers to growth that prevent it from quickly realizing the critical mass necessary to compete on equal terms at global level in the newly developing multimedia markets. Actions are needed at both national and European level if Europe is to exploit its richness in content and confront the growing global competition. At stake is whether the European content industry - employing more than two million people and with a turnover of ECU 150 billion in 1994 - will be a powerful presence in its own domestic market. Or will mainly non-European players capture the lion's share of the growing demand for multimedia products? A number of actions are already being undertaken at EU level to create a favourable environment for the European information industry. Such actions include the liberalization of telecommunications infrastructures and services, and the creation of a clear and stable legal framework in the area of intellectual property rights and privacy protection. In addition, initiatives to stimulate the development and implementation of new information and communication technologies are being carried out in the Fourth Framework Programme. In complementing these actions, INFO2000 aims at stimulating the emerging multimedia information industry - which comprises many small and often new enterprises - to recognize and exploit the business opportunities that are arising, thereby boosting employment. The programme also contributes to the preservation and exploitation of Europe's cultural heritage. It helps to mitigate the risks of a two-tier society composed of "information rich" and "information poor". INFO2000 has three long-term strategic objectives: - To facilitate the development of the European content industry; - To optimize the contribution of new information services to growth, competitiveness and employment in Europe; - To maximize the contribution of advanced information services to the professional, social and cultural development of the citizens of Europe. A balanced set of initiatives is proposed by the Commission which aim to create favourable conditions for the development of the European multimedia information industry and to stimulate the demand for, and use of, multimedia content. Three lines of action have been devised to tackle market bottlenecks and to meet the needs of both users and producers in this market area: - Stimulating demand and raising awareness; - Exploiting Europe's public sector information; - Triggering European multimedia potential. In particular, INFO2000 actions target small and new enterprises for whom the emerging multimedia market creates a wealth of opportunities in terms of jobs and value-added. The range of potential participants in INFO2000 will be wide, covering the diverse sectors that comprise the electronic information value chain. These include, on the supplier side, enterprises which develop, produce, package and distribute information (in the form of data, text, sound and images) and those involved in end-user access. End-user participation will include large and small businesses, public sector administrations, professionals and individuals. Convinced that a smooth transition to the information society can only be achieved by involving a wide range of people, the Commission will encourage organizations and individuals at national and Union level to participate actively, give policy advice and raise public awareness.