Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, education and training, presented the first results of the Commission's Task Force on multi-media educational software to the European Ministers for Education, meeting in Council on 23 October 1995. Wide-ranging consultations with industry and software designers have revealed the following concerns with regard to the developement of multimedia educational software in Europe: - By the end of the century, each teaching establishment should be able to benefit from a wide variety of personalized products and services, which are easy to use and available at a reasonable price; - There has been a considerable growth in family-based multi-media education but the introduction of multi-media tools in schools has been much slower, partly due to the inadequate quality of teaching products and the failure by schools to provide enough computers; - Competition from the US is very intensive. Certain recommendations can already be made: - Part of the funds allocated to the Fourth Framework Programme for 1996 must be focused on promoting telematic applications for education and training; - Coordination between the specific R&D programmes must be improved; - The SOCRATES and LEONARDO DA VINCI programmes must contribute to the development of multi-media educational software, for example by encouraging activities to improve information, promote cooperation between schools, industry and software designers, develop training activities for teachers and educational software designers and develop multi-media based projects for schools offering mature students a second chance at education. Mrs. Cresson also informed the Council on the state of preparations for the European Year of Lifelong Learning, scheduled for 1996. New information technologies will play a central role in the activities of the year. The Internet will be used to provide information and to organize exchanges of experiences and good practices. Other actions under consideration include linking schools in networks, the development of multi-media educational software by teachers and students, the development of networks of multi-media resource centres at local level open to people of all ages and the promotion of information technologies in enterprises, in particular SMEs. In a related meeting, the Council, the Commission and representatives from the associated Central and Eastern European countries examined means of facilitating the progressive participation of these countries in the SOCRATES, LEONARDO DA VINCI and Youth for Europe programmes. The countries set out their priorities, timetables and measures taken to facilitate participation. The Commission undertook to prepare a plan for effective participation enabling the countries to benefit from certain activities under these programmes from the beginning of 1996.