More than 200 representatives of business, government and the science community participated in the Second EU-CEEC Forum on the Information Society, held in Prague on 12 and 13 September 1996. In his opening speech, Martin Bangemann, European Commissioner responsible for industry and telecommunications, stressed the importance of close cooperation between the EU and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEECs) in developing a pan-European strategy for the Information Society. Important examples of areas in which cooperation is essential, if we are to establish a wider European internal market for new services, are standardization and the creation of a common legal framework. Mr. Bangemann placed particular emphasis on the importance of the liberalization of telecommunications markets: "Only when private suppliers of telecommunications networks and services are admitted will prices go down and new demand be stimulated". The importance of setting up concrete European pilot projects was also recognized at a means of increasing public awareness and demonstrating the practical usefulness of the Information Society for the citizens. Commissioner Bangemann offered close European cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the development of national strategies for an accelerated implementation of the Information Society and the promotion of projects at a European level. In this context, a concrete Action Plan with 27 project ideas was adopted. Mr. Bangemann called upon the participating countries to implement, with support from the EU, as many of these ideas as possible. A third EU-CEEC Forum on the Information Society is planned for the autumn of 1997. Meanwhile, meetings on specific themes at ministerial level are planned in Hungary (strategy and policy for the Information Society), Slovenia (implementation of the Action Plan), Estonia (education and training) and the Czech Republic (application of information and communications technologies in public administration).
Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia