IT news in brief

December 17, 1999

At least one university and one scientific research centre in each European Union member state should have a campus network capable of supporting multimedia communications.

This is one of the key targets for adoption at the special European council meeting in Lisbon next March. It was discussed by heads of government in Helsinki last week, with a raft of ambitious plans to transform Europe into an e-leader in e-business.

Fast internet access for researchers and students is one of many information technology action calls proposed by European Commission president Romano Prodi in a white paper, eEurope - An Information Society for Us All.

The paper targets ten action areas, from education to transport and from healthcare to the disabled. These would have to be met by all EU institutions and states. The aim is to get every business, school, home and citizen online via computer, mobile phone or television set-top boxes.

Other priorities are developing technology to improve transport management, safety and information, health provision, aid for the disabled, and increasing access to government information.

Mr Prodi says Europe should learn from the United States, where internet-related companies directly provide 2.3 million jobs.

Mr Prodi adds: "These changes, the most significant since the Industrial Revolution, are far-reaching and global. They are not just about technology. They will affect everyone, everywhere. Managing this transformation represents one of the central economic and social challenges facing Europe today."

Erkki Liikanen, enterprise and information society commissioner, says: "Europe needs to build on its strengths. It has a leading role in mobile communications and digital TV yet the uptake of the internet has been relatively slow. By combining digital literacy with strength in mobile communications, Europe can lead the next great leap to a wireless internet world."

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