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Document 31996Y1212(01)

Council Resolution of 21 November 1996 on new policy- priorities regarding the information society

EÜT C 376, 12.12.1996, p. 1–5 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

Legal status of the document In force


Council Resolution of 21 November 1996 on new policy- priorities regarding the information society

Official Journal C 376 , 12/12/1996 P. 0001 - 0005

COUNCIL RESOLUTION of 21 November 1996 on new policy-priorities regarding the information society (96/C 376/01)


Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community,

Having regard to the Council resolution of 18 November 1991 on electronics, information and communications technologies (1),

Having regard to the Council conclusions on the information society of 28 September 1994,

Having regard to the Council resolution of 21 November 1994 on the strengthening of the competitiveness of Community industry (2),

Having regard to the Council resolution of 22 December 1994 on the principles and timetable for the liberalization of telecommunications infrastructures (3),

Having regard to the Council conclusions of 7 April 1995 on industrial competitiveness,

Having regard to the Council resolution of 27 November 1995 on the industrial aspects for the European Union in the development of the information society (4),

Having regard to the conclusions of the Presidency at the European Councils held in Corfu, Cannes, Madrid and Florence,

Having regard to the Commission's White Paper of December 1993 on growth, competitiveness and employment,

Having regard to the Commission's communication of 19 July 1994 entitled 'Europe's way to the information society. An action plan`,

Having regard to the Commission's communication of September 1994 on an industrial competitiveness policy for the European Union,

Taking note of the Commission proposals on a Directive on regulatory transparency in the internal market for information society services,

Taking note of the Commission communication 'The information society: From Corfu to Dublin - The new emerging priorities`, the Commission communication 'The implications of the information society for European Union policies - Preparing the next steps`, the Green Paper 'Living and working in the information society: People first`, and the Communication 'Standardization and the global information society`,

Taking note of the communication from the Commission on services of general interest in Europe,

Whereas initiatives taken in the context of the information society must make allowance for policies framed in adjacent areas, in particular audiovisual and cultural affairs, and without prejudice to national measures implemented in accordance with Community law in such areas;

Whereas the process of economic globalization is increasing competitive pressure and will require greater flexibility and efficiency, while at the same time opening new market opportunities which can help to increase economic growth and employment;

Whereas the rapid and coherent development of the information society is essential to Europe's competitiveness and employment;

Whereas liberalization of telecommunications markets, within the agreed timetable, will stimulate private and public investment necessary for the development of the information society in Europe;

Whereas the principles of the internal market should apply to the emerging information society services so that internationally competitive structures can develop on the European market;

Whereas the information society is making possible a profound economic and social transformation which is spreading to all spheres of human activity;

Whereas the information society can support the promotion of high level employment and the raising of living standards and quality of life in the Community;

Whereas the information society and the use of new technologies should contribute to the effective protection and exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens and consumers;

Whereas however the distribution of illegal material adversely affecting public order and morality may damage confidence in and acceptance of the new information society;

Whereas the use of emerging technologies can contribute to improving regional cohesion in Europe in a cost effective way;

Whereas the economic, social and cultural strengths of the European Union must be linked together in the creation of new opportunities for all citizens;

Whereas education and training, based on the principles of lifelong learning, for and via the information society will be vital in providing people with the skills needed in their professional and private lives;

Whereas there is a need for a revised and updated action plan;

Whereas the information society results from the technological convergence of the audiovisual, computing and telecommunications sectors;

Whereas it will be necessary for all competent Council compositions to consider, and to adopt as soon as possible, the necessary regulatory and legal measures,


1. WELCOMES the initiative of the Commission in presenting a number of reflection documents and proposals to further develop the policy framework of the information society;

2. NOTES that good progress has been made in the implementation of the action plan 'Europe's way to the information society` by:

(a) the adoption of measures for full liberalization of telecommunications markets;

(b) the successful implementation of three specific research programmes in information and communications technologies and telematic application developments under the fourth framework programme;

(c) Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (1), the common position on the specific draft directive on the protection of privacy and personal data in the telecommunications sector and the adoption of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases (2);

(d) the adoption of TEN-ISDN guidelines as a major step towards establishing a comprehensive framework for TEN-Telecoms;

(e) the adoption of INFO 2000 to support the European multimedia content industry;

(f) the implementation of a substantial number of information society projects in the fields of industrial applications, standardization, regional policy and international cooperation;

(g) the launch of specific actions to improve public awareness of the information society;

(h) increased international cooperation, including the implementation of G7 pilot actions, and in particular cooperation with Central and East European States, Mediterranean countries and the developing world;


(a) the challenge posed by global competition, the changing business environment in the information society, and the crucial importance of information and communication technologies for the competitiveness of European industry and thus for the creation of new employment;

(b) the market and employment opportunities offered by the information society for the European economy - for example in the areas of electronic commerce and multimedia content;

(c) the need for all interested parties to take into account social and societal aspects of the information society and to respect the major importance of its human dimension;

(d) the need for common principles for the provision and financing of universal services, considering that the concept of universal service must evolve to keep pace with advances in technology, market development and changes in user demands;

(e) the need for a favourable legal and regulatory framework for all European companies, in particular for a better environment for technology-oriented small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);

(f) the need for the Community institutions to improve information and communications systems in order to facilitate better management of its business;

(g) the need for efficient and price competitive trans-European generic services for communications and exchange of data;

(h) the importance of education and culture for developing better understanding of the information society;

(i) the importance of technical harmonization for the development of the global information society;

4. STRESSES with the Commission

(a) that rapid adoption and effective implementation of the regulatory framework necessary for the liberalization of the telecom sector throughout the Community is crucial for ensuring the development of competition for the benefit of all users;

(b) that a strong and competitive European information and communication technology (ICT) industry is essential for the full exploitation of the benefits of the information society;

(c) that European competition policy must preserve competition in the Community and enable European companies to succeed in international markets;

(d) that the proper functioning of the internal market must be improved; that given the increasing share of services in the economy, the provision and free circulation of services - especially new ones - is of particular importance;

(e) the need to accelerate the adoption of formal standards at both European and global level, and to ensure the open and transparent character of technical specifications in order to avoid abuse of dominant market positions;

(f) the importance of the successful completion by 15 February 1997 of the World Trade Organization negotiations on basic telecommunications services;

(g) the importance of the successful completion of current work within World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on new international agreements concerning the protection of copyrights and related rights in the information society.


(a) the importance of speedy take-up of information and communication technologies by all operators;

(b) the crucial role of research and development in the ICT sectors in view of the ability of European industry to compete and innovate;

(c) the need to constantly improve and adjust skills to meet changing work requirements;

(d) the importance of encouraging the emergence of new forms of employment;

(e) the necessity of promoting the use of ICT for sustainable development in production, distribution and consumption;

(f) the need to exploit the potential of the information society for enhancing cultural, linguistic or other diversity;

(g) the need to make the benefits of the information society accessible to every European citizen regardless of location or any reasons of exclusion;

(h) the importance of protecting fundamental rights and freedoms as well as users' and consumer rights in the information society;


(a) the intention of the Commission to demonstrate the use of communication in its administrative operations, for example in the management of European research programmes;

(b) the efforts of the Member States and the Commission to promote seamless communication between public authorities across the European Union while respecting national legislation, in particular when the security of Member States is concerned;

7. NOTES with interest the first orientation document of the Commission regarding the fifth framework programme and welcomes the proposal to give information society related research a central role;

8. NOTES with interest - given the importance of education and training for business competitiveness - the presentation by the Commission of the action plan 'Learning in the information society` requested by the European Council in Florence this year;

9. STRESSES the importance of an appropriate and consistent legal framework for the information society at European and at an international level;

10. STRESSES the importance of adequate coordination between the relevant regulatory authorities, particularly in the fields of licensing, frequency allocation and numbering;

11. STRESSES the need to fully take into account the cohesion dimension, in particular by helping the less-favoured regions to effectively participate in the information society;



12. ENCOURAGE the start-up, growth and development of innovative companies and SMEs in the area of ICT;

13. IMPROVE public services, for example in education, culture, health care, transport, administration and access to public information, through accelerated use of information society tools and partnerships between the public and private sector while ensuring citizen's confidence in the use of these new tools with regard to their fundamental rights and freedoms, and in particular the right to the protection of personal data;

14. ENSURE the consistent and effective transposition of the telecommunications reform package within the agreed time scales;


THE COUNCIL REQUESTS MEMBER STATES AND THE COMMISSION, WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE COMPETENCES, TO 15. LOOK into the problem of the distribution of illegal material adversely affecting public order and morality over electronic networks;

16. PREPARE consistent measures to ensure integrity and authenticity of electronically transmitted documents;

17. PROMOTE negotiations on the Information Technology Agreement with a view to future multilateral agreements;

18. SECURE close cooperation and coordination between the different programmes and activities in the area of ICT;

19. BETTER COORDINATE their respective initiatives on the information society in order to maximize the potential benefits, and requests the Commission to report on these initiatives on a regular basis to promote complementarity between activities;



20. FOLLOW UP, as appropriate, the consultation already under way on the Green Papers 'Living and working in the information society`, 'New audiovisual services`, 'Copyright and related rights in the information society`, 'The legal protection of encrypted services` and 'Commercial communications in the internal market`;

21. ANALYSE potential barriers to the development of new information society services, in particular electronic commerce;

22. ANALYSE the impact of information and communications technologies on the competitiveness of industry sectors and submit proposals for a European initiative to stimulate the use of ICT, in particular for SMEs;

23. INTENSIFY international cooperation, in particular to assist the accession countries in their preparation for the information society and to improve communication with other regions, in order to promote the global information society;

24. REPORT to Council on the competitive position of the ICT industry and the state of implementation of the resolution of 18 November 1991 on electronics, information and communication technologies;



25. RECOGNIZE its responsibility to

- upgrade the skills of management and employees in the use of ICT,

- exploit the potential of ICT in enhancing competitiveness,

- create and promote new information society services and products as well as stimulate timely production of suitable and market-driven standards and specifications;

26. ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in the development of information society policies at national and European level while being attentive to the social and societal aspects of the information society;

27. ESTABLISH and market cost-effective trans-European generic services for exchange of data;



28. INVITES the Commission and the Member States to examine appropriate actions, including in accordance with existing regional policy instruments, to ensure that the opportunities offered by the information society can be grasped by individuals and firms;

29. CONSIDERS there is a need to improve transparency of national and Community initiatives, including the regulatory framework, for the development of information society services;

30. URGES the Member States and the Commission to make sustained efforts to increase public awareness and understanding of, and participation in the information society;

31. INVITES the Community institutions in cooperation with Member States, to establish, within a reasonable timescale, an integrated system for the management of interinstitutional communications;

32. RECOGNIZES the need for further analysis of the issues underlying development of information society policy internationally with a view to reaching a common understanding on means and conditions governing the use of global information networks and stresses the need for coordination between initiatives relating to the subjects, both in the Community framework and in other international forums;

33. WELCOMES the German proposal to host an international conference dedicated to this end that will be prepared in close cooperation with the Commission and the Member States;

34. WELCOMES the intention of the Commission to present a revised and updated action plan 'Europe's way to the information society` before the end of this year.

(1) OJ No C 325, 14. 12. 1991, p. 2.

(2) OJ No C 343, 6. 12. 1994, p. 1.

(3) OJ No C 379, 31. 12. 1994, p. 4.

(4) OJ No C 341, 19. 12. 1995, p. 5.

(1) OJ No L 281, 23. 11. 1995, p. 31.

(2) OJ No L 77, 27. 3. 1996, p. 20.