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Specific programme of research and technological development (EEC) in the field of telematic systems in areas of general interest - Telematics systems for rural areas -, 1990-1994

Part of the specific programme of research and technological development in the field of telematic systems in areas of general interest (1990-1994) under Area 7: "Telematics systems for rural areas", this programme has close links with certain projects in Area 2 (DRIVE 2) and Area 4 (DELTA 2) as well as with other Community programmes involving initiatives in rural areas (RACE II, LEADER, TELEMATIQUE, INTERREG, STRIDE, IMPACT II, PHARE).

The introduction of telematic services in rural areas will be a gradual process and the infrastructures installed will have a lifetime of some decades. It is therefore essential that the right choices are made on technologies and system configurations. Pre-normative actions are needed to harmonize the Community markets for telematics equipment and services in these areas and to assess their impact.

The overall objectives of the programme are to create the conditions for geographically dispersed small businesses to provide more diverse employment opportunities and a more balanced economic activity in rural areas; to establish a basis for provision of improved services to dispersed and isolated populations; to raise the level of awareness of the potential of information and communication technologies in rural areas; to encourage manufacturers and service providers to make equipment and services easier to use by rural communities; and to ensure that applications of information and communication technologies in rural areas do not contribute to a further centralization of business and administrative activities and a loss of the cultural and economic diversity of rural areas in Europe.

Potential applications of telematic systems to be explored in the context of the programme relate, inter alia, to administrative and community services, business activities, tourism, the retail and distribution sector and agriculture.
To develop a better understanding of the common needs and opportunities for telematic services and of the impacts of such services on rural life; to establish a common understanding of network configuration requirements and options and a common understanding of service requirements for telematic services, and to prepare the way for the harmonized planning and introduction of telematic service infrastructures in rural areas.
Five parts:

- Coordination and consensus development with industry and rural development agencies:
. Organization and management of consensus development and concerted actions;
. Project coordination;

- Identification of needs and opportunities for telematic services and assessment of their impacts:
. Rural typology and characterization activities;
. Current status, experience and evaluation of applications of telematic systems in rural areas;
. Research into how social, economic, educational and cultural circumstances affect the take-up of telematic systems;
. R&D on the potential impacts of telematic systems on social and economic conditions and changes in rural areas;

- Specification of applications and technology requirements:
. Applications and service requirements;
. Reference model development;

Research and development on telematic systems and conduct of pilot applications:
. Technology use or adaptation for rural applications;
. User equipment, software and terminals for rural areas;
. Pilot applications of telematic systems in rural areas;

- Research on infrastructure planning and implementation strategies:
. Information on rural areas and related telematic systems aspects;
. Strategies for telematic systems implementation in rural areas;
. Policy issues and Community involvement in telematic systems implementation in rural areas.
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme, which comprises research and technological development (RTD) projects and accompanying measures.

Rural development agencies, industrial firms (including SMEs), telecommunication network operators, community associations and users of telematic systems in rural areas, universities and other research organizations may be involved.

The projects are the subject of shared-cost contracts, with Community financial participation not normally exceeding 50%. Universities and other research centres have the option of requesting, for each project, either 50% funding of total expenditure or 100% funding of the additional marginal costs. Contracts relating to shared-cost research projects must as a general rule be concluded following a selection procedure based on calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Projects must, as a general rule, provide for the participation of at least two partners, each independent of the other, established in different Member States.

Support for specific rural development projects and pilot applications of telematic systems may be possible under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) or the Social Fund in the context of the LEADER and TELEMATIQUE programmes. In rural areas ineligible for such support, European Investment Bank (EIB) support may be appropriate.

Accompanying measures, such as the organization of concertation activities, information exchange and project coordination will be the subject of contracts established by the Commission with appropriate organizations.

The Commission is authorized to negotiate, in accordance with Article 130n of the Treaty, international agreements with third countries which are members of COST, in particular the member countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, with a view to associating them with the whole programme or a part of it. Where framework agreements for scientific and technical cooperation have been concluded between the Community and European non-Member States, bodies and enterprises established in those countries may, on the basis of the criterion of mutual benefit, be allowed to become partners in a project undertaken within the programme.

No contracting body based outside the Community and participating as a partner in a project undertaken within the programme may benefit from Community financing for this programme. The body concerned shall contribute to the general administrative costs.