The Task Force for multimedia educational software, which started work in March of this year, was set up at the initiative of Commissioners Cresson and Bangemann. In launching the task force, Mr. Bangemann pointed out that "given the high rate of unemployment, social upheavals and the technological revolution, it is important that Community research should help to make European firms more competitive and produce results which are visible to, and useful for, the general public." In this context, the Task Force has a two-fold mandate: - To take stock of the current situation regarding multimedia educational systems; - To help the Commission formulate an action plan to strengthen the position of the European industry in this sector, taking into account users' needs. The Task Force has consulted extensively representatives of users and producers of multimedia educational systems, most recently through a meeting held on 13 September 1995 between Commissioners Bangemann and Cresson and the main parties involved in the European multimedia industry (designers, large publishers, information companies and large users). Several findings have emerged from these consultations: - High-quality multimedia educational systems are now mainly accessible off-line (CD-ROM, CD-I). However, there should be a boom in programmes and services accessible on-line before the end of the century as a result of greater user-friendliness and an expected reduction in telecommunications costs; - Very high data-transmission costs in Europe are one of the main obstacles to the development of programme and services accessible on-line. The Commission's efforts concerning the liberalization of telecommunications services can help to overcome these difficulties; - The European Union plays a significant role through its research and development programmes including: . The Telematics Applications programme, which covers multimedia educational systems; . Community research, education and training programmes (Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates, etc.); . Cultural programmes such as Media II and, when adopted, INFO 2000; - Multimedia educational systems must meet teaching requirements from kindergarten to university and the requirements for additional training both within and outside firms. In addition, as pointed out by Mrs. Cresson, education must meet the needs of social integration. Both Commissioners responsible for the Task Force have stressed that Europe's cultural resources and diversity represent major advantages for an industry in search of "raw material" - namely content. These advantages will help it to compete with the powerful American audio-visual and software industry. Before the end of the year, the Task Force for multimedia educational software will formulate a set of recommendations concerning, among other things, possible adaptation and better coordination of national and European measures.