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Final Evaluation Committee (FEC)
for the IMPACT 2 programme 1 - 4
Executive Summary

Chapter 3


Contents:

1 Fulfilment of programme objectives and budget accountability
2 The budget for IMPACT 2 and the implications for Info2000
3 Strategic management of EC policy as it relates to the content industries, the media and information user interests.
4 Methodology for the stimulation of the information market by sector or by topic
5 Calls for proposals and feasibility phases
6 Information Market Observatory (IMO)
7 Strategic studies
8 Overcoming legal and administrative barriers
9 Development of standards and specifications
10 National Awareness Partners Network
11 ECHO and I’M EUROPE
12 Training Actions
13 Interactive multi-media services (IMM)
14 Geographic information systems
15 Business and industry information services

Chapter 3: Recommendations from the Final Evaluation Committee (FEC) of the IMPACT 2 programme

1 Fulfilment of programme objectives and budget accountability

The Final Evaluation Committee concludes that the overall objectives set for IMPACT 2 have been adequately fulfilled. The budget has been spent effectively following the guidelines set by the Council. A large number of IMPACT 2 coordinators and partners were SMEs. Without continued IMPACT 2 funding under Info2000 the risk in pan-European ventures would be too high for them to continue. This emerges as a clear message from the marketplace.

The FEC recommends to the Council and to the European Parliament acceptance of the completed IMPACT 2 programme with the conclusion that it has been satisfactorily fulfilled overall. However the FEC requests the following recommendations be taken into account in the implementation of the Info2000 programme.

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2 The budget for IMPACT 2 and the implications for Info2000

In December 1991, the Council reduced the proposed budget for IMPACT 2 from 100MECUS to 64MECUS. Effectively the budget allocated to the programme was further reduced to 52MECUS. The expenditure has remained close to the allocation approved by the Council for the Action Lines. The loss of resource which this budget reduction necessitated in DGXIII/E is considered by the FEC to be a strategic error.

The strategic changes occurring in the information market through widespread use of electronic trading and the development of multimedia publishing and technology convergence, make the work of DGXIII/E - in representing the views of the content industries and user market - critical to the success of the EU information society.

Therefore the FEC recommends the Council and the European Parliament to reconsider the budget for Info2000 and to investigate increasing that budget. The present budget is pathetically small for the task which it addresses. The FEC recommends rejection of any attempts by Member States to change - by elimination of activities - any part of the proposed Info2000 programme. Specific areas, where budget increase may be needed, are highlighted in the following recommendations.

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3 Strategic management of EC policy as it relates to the content industries, the media and information user interests.

The past work and culture of DGXIII has its origins in telecoms, technology and scientific information. Since this culture was initiated, the information industries have developed and changed radically. This means there is need for increased support at the highest EC level to the role played by DGXIII/E as the representative of the content industries and the information user community. This community embraces the whole EU publishing and media sectors and those users embedded within most sectors of industry and commerce, for example, health care and medicine, construction, banking, travel etc. Information content is critical also to the future cultural and educational characteristics of the peoples of the European Union. In total, these elements are a central driver to the competitiveness of the future EU industry. The FEC concludes, from its consultation with industry, that DGXIII/E should be encouraged to enhance its mission to articulate the views of the content industries, the media, and the major industrial information users. This role must be changed to give it greater influence in EC policy development.

The leadership of DGXIII/E should be encouraged to redirect effort towards greater understanding of the business needs of the content and media sectors and the aspirations of the total user community. It must have support in the highest EC management levels to exercise influence on the part of this total community. This requires four changes. The changes are:

Action line 1: improving the understanding of the market

Budget

The budget allocation for

The FEC recommends strongly to the Council and to the European Parliament that this structural change be supported. Only by making such change will the proper focus on the market drivers of the information industries in the EU be achieved.

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4 Methodology for the stimulation of the information market by sector or by topic

There has been a certain randomness about the initiatives undertaken in the IMPACT programmes. One initiative in IMPACT 2 - geographic information systems - has demonstrated an exemplar which the FEC would wish to see developed further in Info2000.

The financial resources from the EC for market stimulation are small compared with the investment made by the private sector and national governments. Therefore, DGXIII/E must seek leverage and multipliers in its activities.

Resources should be directed to sectors or topics critical to EU infrastructure development. The definition of these sectors or topics should be judged by their contribution to the economic and social performance of the EU. Measurable performance objectives for the sectors or topics chosen should be set. Activity should be sustained for three to five years under continuous monitoring against agreed success criteria.

The process of sector/topic selection and target setting should be done through comprehensive consultation with leading companies, relevant research and technology organisations (RTOs), trade associations and other interested parties such as leading academic centres. Funds are needed for this process. Implementation will require competent contractors. Without this input, the direction of DGXIII overall cannot be properly exercised.

The FEC recommends an increase in the allocation of budget resources in Info2000 to the comprehensive investigation and selection of sectors or topics critical to stimulation of the information market. The work of DGXIII/E on the GIS programme should be used as an exemplar together with the models for information gathering exemplified by the strategic studies commissioned by DGXIII/E.

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5 Calls for proposals and feasibility phases

Much experience has been gained in IMPACT 2 concerning calls for proposals and the benefits derived from a feasibility phase. One characteristic which the FEC found particularly satisfactory was the distinction made between a feasibility phase and the project implementation phase.

However the FEC is very concerned at the level of market feedback which complained of excessive paperwork and bureaucracy exercised by the EC administration in project processing. The FEC recognises the need for strict accountability in the use of EC funds - that is not the issue. The issue is the rationalisation of the paperwork systems and an element of flexibility which recognises customer needs. EC administrators must recognise their accountability to a client market.

The FEC recommends when piloting new programmes, especially with SMEs, there should be adoption of a standard procedure for a feasibility stage which is minimal in bureaucratic procedure. The FEC recommends independent investigation of the project administration procedures in the EC to reduce drastically paperwork and timescales for project submission, approval, acceptance and project support payment settlements.

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6 Information Market Observatory (IMO)

The chief purpose of the IMO is to improve the availability and quality of data on the information market. This is a massive challenge. This work should be nurtured and developed. The present system for reporting is cumbersome. The FEC recommends separation of the reporting accountability to the Council and to the European Parliament from the reporting accountability to industry customers. The European Information Technology Observatory (EITO) provides an interesting model for possible emulation.

The FEC recommends the continuation and strengthening of the IMO. The scope of the work of the IMO should be enlarged to take full account of the changes taking place in the Information Market; the dissemination of the IMO reports should be speeded up. The FEC proposes that joint venturing with private sector partners be investigated immediately. Previously the EC has sought to make this activity a joint venture with a private sector partner. The committee commends this approach. It is recommended that public funds continue to meet half the cost of this work but that a partner be engaged to turn this activity into one that has an increasing income stream from the market place. The FEC recognises that, in seeking to develop partnership, the IMO may require partnership in more than one EU country.

The FEC recommends also that a reassessment be made of the coverage of the work of the IMO. The rapidly changing information market in the EU must be reflected in expanded coverage by the IMO.

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7 Strategic studies

The FEC has noted, under Action Line 1, three strategic studies commissioned by DGXIII/E. These studies have had significant impact on the marketplace and made worthwhile contribution to policy development for DGXIII. They are good examples of DGXIII/E understanding properly its role to articulate comprehensively the views of the information content industries, the media and the user community. Also the work on coordinating member states studies and rationalising data collection is an essential activity which should be developed further. The FEC concludes that these studies have, in some instances, been a watershed in changing the relationship between DGXIII and the leading players in the EU information industry.

The FEC recommends that the concept of strategic studies be continued and enlarged. Such studies require budget allocation between 250,000ECU and 500,000ECU. It is essential that budget provision be made in Info2000 for several such studies to be constantly in production. Without such investigative work, DGXIII/E cannot make its proper contribution to the development of policy in nurturing the EU information society of the future.

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8 Overcoming legal and administrative barriers

The FEC has noted, under Action Line 2, the activities related to the protection of personal data, the legal protection of databases, copyright in electronic information services, guidelines for pan-European audiotext and videotext services, the legal consequences of convergence of broadcasting, information and communications technologies and the public/private synergy in the information market and access to government information. The FEC commends all of these activities. However, the FEC has consulted with the President of the LAB, with representatives of the publishing and media sectors as well as those concerned with the stimulation of electronic trading. From this investigation, the FEC concludes that the work of the LAB should be strengthened and expanded. It must be given a clear mandate to represent the legal and regulatory requirements of the content industries, the media and the information user community. The FEC considers that such proper fulfilment of the LAB mission will require budget increase and additional resource.

Specifically, the FEC recommends the following:

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9 Development of standards and specifications

The FEC regards this work in IMPACT 2 as important in the light of technology convergence. The past budget allocated has been modest. Yet the EU needs transparency in the movement of content across all media and across national boundaries. The FEC considers that the issue of norms and standards may have been underestimated by DGXIII/E. Also the IPC has limited competence to judge the importance of this issue to the information industries. The FEC makes the following recommendations for inclusion in Info2000:

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10 National Awareness Partners Network

The FEC has studied the concept of NAPs. It concludes that the concept of a distributed system for dissemination and awareness is sound. However the FEC has noted significant variation in the quality of NAPs. Also it has noted that the concept of NAPs may not reflect fully the changes in the information market place. Some NAPs are still catering primarily to information specialists rather than amplifying the broader messages embraced within the totality of the information society and information market. The FEC endorses the concept of NAPs but makes the following recommendations:

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11 ECHO and I’M EUROPE

The FEC has investigated these activities and is satisfied that they have responded positively to comments made in the interim review.

I’M EUROPE complements the other DGXIII WWW servers of the Information Society Project Office (IPSO) and CORDIS and the Commission’s principal service - EUROPA of DGX.

The FEC recommends the continuing funding and support of ECHO - and in particular its work related to the exploitation of the Internet. The FEC recognises the missionary role of ECHO and considers that it should be sustained at this time.

12 Training Actions

IMPACT 2 training initiatives developed pilot actions for the information industries and information users, particularly from SMEs and LFRs. These actions should continue to be developed under the Info2000 programme.

13 Interactive multi-media services (IMM)

The FEC has studied the IMM initiative and is satisfied it has made a significant contribution to development of the information market. While the FEC recognises that market circumstances will change the nature of such an initiative, it recommends the following under Info2000:

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14 Geographic information systems

The FEC has noted the work done on GIS. The FEC confirms that the criticisms made at the time of the interim review have been overcome.

The FEC considers the GIS initiative to be very successful. It is concerned that there is no specific provision made in Info2000 for the continuation of this work. The FEC strongly recommends that specific commitment be made in Info2000 to continue to develop and extend the GIS initiative.

15 Business and industry information services

The FEC has noted the preliminary work undertaken to investigate business and industry information services. It is convinced from this evidence that real need exists in the market place for stimulation and enhancement of this subject area.

The FEC recommends that under Info2000 this work be developed further by:


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