EU heads welcome plans for information society



Keith Nuthall

European Union heads of government have welcomed a plan unveiled by European Commission President Romano Prodi, to boost...



Keith Nuthall

European Union heads of government have welcomed a plan unveiled by European Commission President Romano Prodi, to boost the amount of IT used throughout the EU.

The communique for the EU summit in Helsinki said that Prodi's "e-Europe initiative" was "a way of turning Europe into a genuine information society for all".

The Commission president made his ambitious plans in a Communication (white paper). It called for "every business, school, home and citizen" to be given access to the Internet, via computers, mobile phones or TV set-top boxes. Prodi's paper proposed a number of targets on developing IT, many of which are way ahead of existing national timetables.

These include:

  • The EU and member states being committed to establishing Internet access for all schools by January 2001, making all teachers competent in use of Internet and multimedia resources before 2003 and ensuring that all pupils were "digitally literate" by 2004.
  • Ensuring that by 2001, at least one university and one scientific research centre in each member state should have a campus network capable of supporting multimedia communications.
  • A review by March of Commission funding in support of technical innovation and, by end of 2000, the release of firm new proposals for financial support arrangements.

Other priorities were developing technology to improve transport management, safety and information, healthcare, and increasing access to government information.

The summit's leaders told the Commission to draw up by June 2000 a firm action plan for implementing Prodi's proposals and to provide a progress report at a special summit in Lisbon, this March.

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