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Europe at the forefront of the Global Information Society

The European Commission has adopted an Action Programme entitled "Europe at the forefront of the Global Information Society". The Action Programme, put forward by Mr. Martin Bangemann, Commissioner responsible for industrial affairs, information technologies and telecommunicat...
The European Commission has adopted an Action Programme entitled "Europe at the forefront of the Global Information Society". The Action Programme, put forward by Mr. Martin Bangemann, Commissioner responsible for industrial affairs, information technologies and telecommunications, was adopted on 27 November 1996. Essentially an update of the "Europe's way to the Information Society" Action Plan, launched in 1994, it outlines measures to be taken by the Commission by the end of 1997.

Alongside a list of measures already completed or in progress under the 1994 Action Plan, the latest Action Programme sets out a number of new activities to be undertaken in four main areas:

- Improving the business environment:
Measures are proposed to help small businesses, in particular, to use new technologies in their daily operations. The Commission aims to identify and eliminate obstacles in the areas of copyright, data protection, and digital signatures, which are still blocking more widespread introduction of electronic commerce. The Commission is also promoting satellite personal communication services;

- Investing in the future:
The Information Society will have to be a "Society of Lifelong Learning" if Europe's businesses, workers and citizens are to make optimum use of the potential offered by new technologies. The initiative proposed by the Commission, "Learning in the Information Society", launched on 3 October 1996, will be a major part in this, aiming to introduce new information tools to the school environment. In 1997, the Commission will also launch its proposal for the Fifth RTD Framework Programme and several communications on computer applications, including the use of multimedia software in training and education;

- People at the centre:
The Commission will put forward proposals aimed at helping people to improve their quality of life, both at home and at work, through the use of new technologies. These can also help to counter social exclusion and regional differences in welfare. The Commission will ensure that changes connected with the Information Society benefit equally all parts of the EU and all citizens. It is also planning to launch, during 1997, communications and Green Papers on topics such as: the role of the consumer in the Information Society; rights of teleworkers; cohesion in the Information Society; organization of work; telemedicine; and the development of new audiovisual services;

- Meeting the global challenge:
The Commission will continue to strive towards the adoption of global rules for the Global Information Society, in particular in the areas of: access to markets, intellectual property rights, privacy and data protection, harmful and illegal on-line content, tax issues, information security, frequencies, interoperability and standards.

The Action Programme will be submitted to the Dublin European Council, to be held on 13 and 14 December 1996.
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