The European Institute launched a new initiative to promote transatlantic cooperation and exchange of information in light of rapid developments in information technology, evolving common concerns and new opportunities affecting the information society. It is establishing a dialogue on: convergence of regulatory systems and conditions and rules for balanced cooperation; approaches to encourage the involvement of Member States and industry partners; methods to establish adequate cooperative systems that will maximize growth and employment opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic; and integration of developing countries into the "Global Information Society".
The Institute's Technology program aims to address important societal questions raised by advances in information technology and seek cooperative approaches between the EU and US to apply scientific and technological innovation to mutual benefit. The European Institute promotes links between industry and government to facilitate private sector participation and to encourage partnerships that will bring the tangible benefits of information technology to society.
The Task Force-21 project brings together officials from the US government and the European Union with industry representatives to discuss issues of concern, without formal commitments or official interpretations. This arrangement allows participants more freedom to explore sensitive issues and to clarify goals and policies with government representatives in an "unofficial" manner, and is a valuable and necessary avenue of communication between Europe and the United States.
The program consists of:
.organisation and regular working discussions, including European and US government representatives, business executives, and experts who will provide substantive input;
.high-level meetings with European and American policymakers and officials;
.analysis conducted by members on specific topics and issues;
.two international seminars;
.and distribution of working papers, with a concluding report at the end of the project.
The Institute organizes a first conference on Establishing a Framework for the Workplace of the Future with the objective of encouraging an exchange of information and cooperation on methods, content and technologies that will support improved educational systems and job creation, from a distance. This program will promote varied research, educational and employment arrangements, and stimulate exploration of public-private partnerships. The second seminar will be on The Future for Electronic Commerce: Balancing Social Responsibilities with Business Innovation. As use of the Internet for sales and distribution of good and services grows, there is concern in the US and Europe that consumers' interests are not adequately protected in this new digital environment. "On-line" stock trading, for example, has raised concerns in the US Securities Exchange Commission, while the European Commission has tabled proposals to cover E-Commerce and Distance Selling. The meeting will examine different regulatory approaches to electronic commerce.
The European Institute's information technology program fosters discussion between US and European principals, and provides a forum for representatives from the European Commission to articulate their views and exchange ideas with US government counterparts and leaders in technology innovation. The meetings of The European Institute are simultaneously informal and substantive, allowing the Commission to gather information unofficially, and encourage international policy coordination among a broad base of participants.