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ESC Opinion: Data networks between administrations

An Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee, on the subject of networks for the communication of data between administrations, has recently been published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

The Committee (meeting at its 307th Plenary Session of 30.7.1993...
An Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee, on the subject of networks for the communication of data between administrations, has recently been published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

The Committee (meeting at its 307th Plenary Session of 30.7.1993) adopted its Opinion with regard to three related Commission documents concerning "trans-European data communications networks between administrations". These are: A communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on this subject; a proposal for a Council Decision on a series of guidelines for the same; and a proposal for a Council Decision adopting a multiannual Community programme (IDA) to support the implementation of such networks.

The proposals are designed to assist the Member States in the efficient administration of a Community without frontiers through the common use of data communications equipment, systems and networks.

The Committee endorses, in principal, the Commission's communication and the accompanying proposals. However, it recommends that the IDA programme be supported by industrial policy measures favourable to European industry and job creation. This would involve establishing, within IDA, pan-European projects of common interest capable of spurring into action all concerned (citizens, Member States, Community institutions, industry and SMEs) and enabling the European information technologies industry to amortize the necessary investment.

Among a number of specific comments, the ESC wishes to emphasise the importance of the Commission line of action concerned with user awareness and training. The Commission should also, immediately, create the conditions and provide the assistance necessary to enable relevant Member State associations and organizations to participate more fully. Cooperation with non-Member countries is considered equally important: both EFTA and the Central and Eastern European states are mentioned.

It is also noted that, because the Member States operate very different administrative data communications systems, with differing levels of technical sophistication, special efforts must be made to explain how tasks are to be efficiently identified and assigned.

The Opinion discusses matters including cooperation and consultation with data communications administrations, network operators, service suppliers and industrial undertakings. It also makes reference to information security and the protection of personal data.

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