Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Previous programme


Successor programme


Programme funding

EUR 64 million

Official Journal Reference

L 377 of 1991-12-31

Legislative Reference

91/691/CEE of 1991-12-12
To establish an internal information service market, identify the strength and weaknesses of existing information services in the Community, promote the use of advanced information services, stimulate and reinforce the competitive capability of European suppliers of such services, reinforce European cooperation in order to achieve a Community information services policy, and make use of results supplied by other Community or national programmes with a view to strengthening the information services market.


This second phase of the IMPACT programme continues and extends the activities begun under the 1988- 1990 phase.

One of the major changes in IMPACT 2 as compared with IMPACT 1 is a shift in emphasis from the supply side to the demand side of the information services market. Thus the central theme chosen for the new phase is "Info Euro Access", i.e. to improve the accessibility of information at the European level for all interested parties. In this context activities undertaken by the programme will aim to stimulate and develop the information services market in Europe by removing barriers and stimulating European initiatives. Technology will play a key role, but the development of new technologies is not a major objective.

The European Information Market Observatory (IMO) will continue and extend the scope of its activities for the identification of the Community's strengths and weaknesses in the sector in order to keep Community institutions and Member States informed in drawing up their policy. During the initial phase of IMPACT, the IMO focused its investigations on the supply of database services. These investigations will be enlarged to include neighbouring publishing markets, with particular attention to the market for business and trade press and for scientific, technical and medical publishing. A permanent inventory of existing market data sources will be kept and additional surveys will be launched or stimulated when the data required are not available, incomplete or unreliable. The intention of the IMO is to supplement, and not to supplant, the efforts of Member States, private sector companies and other organizations.

With regard to legal and administrative barriers, one category of work will contribute to the improvement of the coordination of sectoral initiatives on legal problems of a horizontal nature (e.g. protection of privacy, responsibility, intellectual property, proof and authentication of electronic signatures). Actions will be undertaken to reinforce the expertise and documentary resources acquired with the help of the Legal Advisory Board (LAB) in order to provide Member States and Community institutions with easier access to reference documents and to information on current work. To this effect, the Commission will examine the possibility of encouraging the development of a specialized database. A second category of work will concentrate on contributing to the preparation of initiatives specific to certain segments of the information market. Inter alia, the Commission will draw up proposals for harmonizing the rules on the marketing of data files held by public or quasi-public bodies and draw up Community guidelines to harmonize the conditions for opening up electronic information services to the public.

As a complement to current efforts for Open System Interconnection (OSI), the development of open information interchange standards will be promoted in cooperation with existing standardization structures such as EWOS, ETSI and CEN/CENELEC. The development of generic interfaces providing flexible and economic solutions to access a large spectrum of information services will be encouraged.

Actions aimed at supporting information multipliers, experts and end-users will include the development of appropriate tools in all Community languages, the organization of conferences, workshops, training actions, etc., participation in exhibitions, publication of a regular newsletter, provision of a central help desk with a free phone enquiry service, and operation of the multilingual host service ECHO.

Actions to support strategic information initiatives will focus on electronic scientific and technical information services and information services in strategically important market sectors relevant to Community internal market policies.


Four action lines:

- Improving the understanding of the information market:
Collection and analysis of market data, analysis of the competitive strength and weaknesses of the European information industry, analysis of the role of information in the economy and in society, enhancement of the dissemination of the Information Market Observatory (IMO) results;

- Overcoming legal and administrative barriers:
Personal data protection, legal protection of databases, public/private sectors synergy in the information market, principles for a legal framework concerning electronic information services, awareness of legal problems affecting the information market, strengthening the position of the Legal Advisory Board (LAB);

- Increasing user-friendliness and improving information literacy:
. Application of norms and standards:
Development of guidelines for the use of standards, application stimulation, awareness of information standards;
. Awareness, user support, training:
Creation and management of an "awareness network", support for users and providers of information services (ECHO), information exchange with the market place, training of trainers, intermediaries and end-users;

- Supporting strategic information initiatives:
Stimulating the improvement of European-wide access to information, support actions for the Less Favoured Regions (LFRs), follow-up of IMPACT 1 projects.


The Commission is responsible for implementing the programme, assisted by a committee of an advisory nature composed of the representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission.

Activities within the programme are carried out by means of shared-cost contracts, pilot and demonstration contracts, and study and service contracts. Community financial participation does not normally exceed 50% of total project expenditure. Contracts 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. In exceptional cases, unsolicited project proposals may be considered. The Commission may also implement a more flexible scheme in order to provide incentives for the creation of partnerships, in particular involving SMEs and organizations in less-favoured regions (LFRs), or for other exploratory activities in different segments of the information services market.

The Commission is authorized to negotiate, after consulting the Council, agreements with third countries taking part in the development of the information services market with a view to associating them wholly or partially with the programme.

At mid-term and at the end of the programme, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and to the Council an evaluation report drawn up by independent experts on the results obtained. The annual report of the Information Market Observatory (IMO) and the regular reports by the Legal Advisory Board (LAB) shall be submitted to these same bodies and to the Economic and Social Committee.
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