Commissioners call for reform at opening session of IST 2002 conference

November 6, 2002

Brussels, 05 Nov 2002

European Commissioners Erkki Liikanen and Philippe Busquin used their opening addresses to the IST 2002 conference to call for changes in the use and research of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The annual event is being held in Copenhagen from 4 to 6 November, and has attracted technology policy makers, researchers and companies from across Europe. It represents a chance for everyone involved in ICT to examine the latest innovations, to present and exchange best practices and prepare themselves for the upcoming launch of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

In his opening speech, Erkki Liikanen, EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society, said that despite the challenging state of the global technology industry, ICTs still have a crucial role to play in the development of Europe's economy and society. But he also warned that the pursuit of technology for its own sake was not a sustainable policy, and called for a more efficient use of ICTs in Europe. 'A sustained effort is needed in the public and private sector to make the best use of ICT,' he said. 'You need more investment in ICT but, at the same time you need to reorganise the back office and business processes.'

Philippe Busquin, European Commissioner for Research, used his speech to stress the need for changes in the way ICT research is carried out in Europe. He said: 'Our organisations suffer from the fragmentation of European research activity, which is too often carried out without any coordination. A reform of European research is therefore necessary.'

Both Commissioners hope that changes to the structure of FP6, such as the introduction of integrated projects and networks of excellence, will contribute to the reform of research at a European level. They each reminded delegates that ICT research will receive 3.6 billion euro under FP6, with 200 million earmarked for GRIDS projects.

Mr Liikanen said that he would also like to see the user becoming the focus of future developments in ICT. Too often, he feels, people have to adapt to technology, rather than the other way round. 'Technology should be almost invisible, embedded in our natural surrounding. It should be present whenever we need it. Interaction with the technology should be simple and effortless,' he said.

A final message outlined by both Commissioners concerned the strategic importance of the next stage of ICT research. Mr Liikanen stressed that 'we need to increase the level of support for research and development [...]. Investments need to be made now to master the next generation of technologies and applications.' Mr Busquin echoed this view, saying that 'the economic reality of the technology sector makes it even more necessary to prepare, through research, the potential for innovation that will give lead to a strong and durable knowledge base.'

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CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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