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

The Final Evaluation Committee (FEC) concludes that the IMPACT 2 programme has achieved its objectives overall and efficiently spent the budget allocated to it by the Council. The programme has been well managed by DGXIII/E. It has provided value-for-money in the results achieved. The programme has demonstrated the ‘multiplier’ mechanism, whereby the money spent by the European Commission (EC) has had an effect substantially greater than the value of the public funds invested. This multiplier effect will continue after the end of the programme and will create a solid basis on which to build Info2000.

The IMPACT 2 programme has contributed to the development of European Union (EU) infrastructure in the development of the Information Market leading to the creation of the Information Society. Specifically the achievements of IMPACT 2 are demonstrated by:

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The Final Evaluation Committee considers the success of the IMPACT 2 programme to make an overwhelming case for support by Member States, the Council and the European Parliament to the Info2000 programme; and for consideration to be given to increasing the budget allocation given to the Info2000 programme.

The reason the Final Evaluation Committee advocates budget increase for Info2000 is that it would follow the logic of recent EC White Papers and the findings of the Bangemann Committee on stimulation to the growth of the Information Society. The EU needs to create jobs and to improve competitiveness in global markets. The Information Market is recognised as a major driver of these two objectives. In turn, the driver of the Information Market is that of users of information and providers of content - such as publishers. Without users and content providers there is no demand for software, hardware, or facilities such as telecommunications. Hence the role of DGXIII/E is critical to the development of the Information Market and to the formulation of EC policy overall. At present this work is under-funded when compared with the size of the challenge which it should address. There appears to be a failure in strategic understanding of this driver mechanism in the EC.

DGXIII/E must be encouraged to continue to articulate the views and aspirations of all information users - industry, commerce and the many branches of the public sector including cultural communities such as education - together with the views and aspiration of content owners, the media and functional activities of commerce such as advertising. DGXIII/E must be mandated to give coherence to these views on all matters related to the Information Market development including the regulatory framework required for competitive trading.

Since the introduction of the IMPACT 2 programme the Information Market has changed dramatically. The Information Market now permeates virtually all organisations in the private and public sectors of the European Union. Multimedia has become the focus of activity by global players as well as industry, commerce, academia and the public sectors and governments in the Member States. This change in the Information Services marketplace has been reflected in the work of DGXIII/E. However, the issue of mandate clarity disadvantages the players in the information industries in the EU and deprives Member State programmes of the benefits of leadership in cooperation, and thus gaining the maximum multiplier effect throughout the EU from Information Society programmes. This situation must be changed. It is a subject which requires urgent political attention at the highest level.

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Thus, the recommendations of the Final Evaluation Committee arising from the IMPACT 2 programme may be summarised as follows.

1 The IMPACT 2 programme has been completed successfully and within the budget guidelines set out by the Council.

2 In recognition of the success of IMPACT 2 and the growing importance of the Information Services Market to EC policy overall, consideration should be given to increasing the budget for Info2000. Any attempts by Member States to change - by elimination of activities - any part of the proposed Info2000 programme should be rejected.

3 The Council and the European Parliament should support an enhanced mandate for DGXIII/E. Four specific changes are recommended. They are:

4 Allocation of budget resources in Info2000 to the development of a methodology for the stimulation of particular sectors or topics is required.

5 In project calls, the adoption of a standard procedure for feasibility stage work which is minimal in bureaucratic procedure is needed. Independent investigation of the project administration procedures in the administrative departments of the EC to reduce drastically paperwork, timescales, approval, acceptance and project support payment settlement should be instigated.

6 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 report should be speeded up.

7 Increase in the budget for strategic studies with a minimum provision of 750,000 ECU per annum during the duration of the Info2000 programme is advisable.

8 An enhanced mandate for the LAB - and if necessary increased budget - is recommended by:

9 Increased budget allocation to work on the promotion of standards and specifications under the Info2000 programme is proposed; this should specifically address the issues of:

10 A new Call for NAPs should go out to demonstrate understanding of the total Information Market, and to put in place a system of milestones and performance criteria which requires the activity to resemble a marketing development programme for EC activities.

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11 Continued funding to support ECHO and I’M-EUROPE WWW server is proposed, as well as continued support to training initiatives under Info2000 in conjunction with DGXXII.

12 Continued support to interactive multimedia services (IMM) is recommended and specifically:

13 Re-consideration of specific allocation of budget resources in line with the communication on GIS to Council and the European Parliament.

14 Development of stimulation to business and industry information services should be encouraged by:

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