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Motion for a resolution

Resolution on the recommendation to the European Council: Europe and the global information society and the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament and to the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Europe's way to the information society: an action plan.

The European Parliament,

  1. Acknowledges that the change which will be brought about by the transition to the information society will in the long run produce effects as wide-ranging as those of the first industrial revolution owing to its impact on economic processes, the transformation of the role and expectations of the various social actions and its influence on all society's activities, however far removed they may appear to be from technological applications, and probably on our own value systems themselves; calls therefore for the systematic participation of the European Parliament in all decisions concerning the further development of the information society;
  2. Considers that, if the development of information highways is not sufficiently well structured, it could lead to all types of abuse and undermining of democracy by creating a gulf between those who are able to master this technological instrument and those who are not;
  3. Calls attention to the fact that the great opportunities of the information society are threatened by the risks of exclusion of non- skilled or low-qualified people, the emergence of a two-tier society, the increase in inequality between regions, between urban and rural areas, between central and peripheral areas, the increase in the isolation of individuals, intrusion into private life and various other ethical problems;
  4. Emphasizes that, in conditions of unemployment such as those prevailing in the Union at the moment, the information revolution will prove its worth to society and ultimately consolidate itself only to the extent that its impact on the employment situation turns out to be on balance, positive;
  5. Considers it the duty of employers, employees and the state jointly to formulate in a clear manner and effectively manage such problems, with particular attention to making universally available the training and retraining necessary to bring the level of skills of the labour force up to the level required by the new technologies;
  6. Calls for the protection of European cultural and democratic values by ensuring that as much importance is attached to cultural, social and societal aspects as to economic interests and that the principles of equality, easy access, low costs, the provision of certain basic services free of charge, as provided in particular by public broadcasting organizations, and freedom of choice are respected;
  7. Approves the aim, set out in the White Paper and confirmed by the European Council, of equipping the European Union as soon as possible with a high-capacity telecommunications infrastructure allowing it to benefit in full, and at a minimum cost to users, from both new multi- media applications and traditional services;
  8. Considers that the establishment of a high-capacity telecommunications infrastructure, particularly in connection with trans-European networks, involves more than equipment and operating systems, and that it should cover the creation, at the same time, of a core of basic functions and services available to those using and providing applications;
  9. Considers that it will to be possible to stimulate investment at the same time as cutting access costs without the spur of competition in access to telecommunications infrastructures, which entails the need, in the short term, for controlled liberalization of such telecommunications infrastructures, with due regard to the proper utilization of the vast excess capacity present in already existing networks;
  10. Calls for SMUs to be given special consideration concerning access to the new telecommunications structures and for these structures and the main commercial services to be accessible for non-profit-making organizations in particular;
  11. Considers that the definition of universal service, in the context of a diversified supply of multi-media services, is liable to change and must in any event be drawn more widely than the principles and spheres of application recognized in the Council resolution of 7 February 1994 (1) ; recalls, in this connection, its resolution of 6 May 1994 (2) on the communication from the Commission accompanied by the proposal for a Council resolution on universal service principles in the telecommunications sectors and invites the Commission to bring forward publication of the report referred to in the above Council resolution and include integrated-services networks; stresses that services such as public health care, education and training must remain public and that a comprehensive solution must be found by means of guaranteed access to the new information and communications technologies;
  12. Considers that, apart from regulatory obstacles, investment may also be impeded by a 'wait-and-see' attitude on the part of investors, uncertain as to the future state of demand, in which case it is the task of public authorities to guide, encourage and coordinate investment initiatives, refocussing adequately public spending programmes on the new targets in question;
  13. Urges that the Community rules that have already been adopted in the field of telecommunications should be effectively implemented and enforced and demands that the Commission should fully assume all its responsibilities as guardian of the Treaties by making use of all the powers conferred upon it by those Treaties;
  14. Invites all the Community institutions to introduce as soon as possible a regulatory framework combining stability as regards its principles and programmed change as regards its content, this being necessary to create the predictable environment conducive to decisions on investment by all the operators concerned;
  15. Considers that this legal framework should define the principles relating to the protection of young people, to the protection of social rights in the field of social security and health care and to equality of opportunity which apply to the new conditions associated with teleworking, telemedicine and distance learning, and that these principles should be implemented at the most appropriate decision-making level;
  16. Considers that Community-wide rules will have to be defined for the following:
    • the granting of licences,
    • interconnection,
    • access to networks for users and suppliers of services,
    • guarantee of universal service,
    • charging, in particular the setting of socially and regionally differentiated tariffs,
    • security of operation and protection of networks against malicious or accidental intrusion (network integrity),
    • protection and remuneration of intellectual property,
    • cryptography and electronic signatures,
    • protection of private and personal information,
    • consumer protection;
  17. Expresses concern about the increased dangers for pluralism arising from the obliteration of the boundaries between suppliers of infrastructure, services or applications and content at multinational level, and calls for the formulation at Community level of uniform rules for the control of concentrations with regard to both infrastructures and basic services and applications, in particular to ensure separation between audiovisual or multimedia production activities and the operation of infrastructures and basic services;
  18. Warns the Community institutions and the Member States against the substantial risks (inconsistency, delay, extra cost and inefficiency) that handling these matters nationally or the duplication by the Member States of Community measures would entail and therefore advocates the creation of a European regulatory authority with, along the lines of the Federal Communication Committee, exclusive responsibility for ensuring compliance with the rules referred to above;
  19. Considers that it is incumbent upon the public authorities actively to promote, both by setting an example and by using financial incentives, the swift establishment of, initially European standards and, subsequently, international standards enabling networks and applications to be interconnected under optimum conditions and without any deterioration in performance or user friendliness and encouraging the dissemination of multimedia products on a pan-European scale, while taking account of the specific linguistic and cultural characteristics of the peoples of Europe;
  20. Calls on the national and Community authorities to take the lead in equipping the European Union with the corresponding applications designed to meet real social needs which cannot be met by market forces without an initial stimulus, or wherever market forces show themselves excessively slow in calling forth commercial applications of new research results; calls on them to provide the necessary resources for this purpose both by direct funding, in particular from the Structural and Cohesion Funds, and by the eventual introduction of a contribution from suppliers of commercial services;
  21. Welcomes the new technological developments as an opportunity to create modern and environmentally safe jobs and to make human work easier; calls however for an detailed evaluation of the challenges and risks of a new approach to work, as a result of the shift of emphasis from the place of work to the product and the concept of telecommuting to indicate geographical distance from colleagues and/or the undertaking;
  22. Calls for a social dialogue with the collective bargaining partners on socially acceptable rules which take into account the risks and challenges of the new work culture engendered by the development of communications networks, with the resulting changes in conditions of employment, the danger of undermining freedom of association and trade union representation as a result of the decentralization and individualization of working relations and the geographical isolation from colleagues and the company of employment which teleworking involves;
  23. Calls on the Community institutions and the Member States to encourage the development of applications in the general interest, especially those which will further the aims of education and training, regional planning in the interests of geographically disadvantaged or industrially declining areas of Europe, health care, democracy and the fight against social marginalization, in order to provide proof of the job creation potential offered by the information society and to contribute to a positive perception of the information society among the public;
  24. Requests the Commission to examine carefully the centralizing as well as the decentralizing effects of information technologies on regional, economic and social cohesion;
  25. Believes that the availability of virtually unlimited means of transmitting information is one way of increasing the transparency of public life and that it is incumbent upon the Community institutions and the Member States to make systematic provision for citizens to have electronic access, at reasonable cost, to all documents which are by law in the public domain;
  26. Calls on the Council and the Commission to introduce a Public Information Service which can be accessed at public libraries and other public buildings;
  27. Undertakes, as far as Parliament itself is concerned, to develop such access at the earliest opportunity and calls on its Secretary-General to submit proposals to this effect by 30 June 1995;
  28. Points out that no solution has yet been found within GATT with regard to the rules applicable to copyright and the audiovisual sector or issues concerning the telecommunications sector, and urges that the European infrastructure, services and applications markets should only be opened up to third countries if they provide effective and economically attractive concessions in return, in particular strict reciprocity with regard to the conditions of access to markets;
  29. Considers that the European Parliament should be officially represented at the coming G7 conference on the information society;
  30. Stresses that the development of an information society must take place within an appropriate legal and regulatory framework which must be defined in a concomitant fashion, since such a development will only have desirable consequences if guidelines and operating rules are also established at supranational level;
  31. Considers that there are no grounds for opposing the rapid development of an extraordinary technological innovation and the objective which consists in equipping the European Union with its own normative instruments and operational programmes in order to ensure its presence in a market which is increasingly acquiring a worldwide dimension;
  32. Deplores the fact that no proposal for a directive has yet been submitted to promote, in accordance with the wishes expressed by Parliament, the plurality of information, to prevent unlawful mergers and to contribute, in association with the laws of the Member States, to the establishment of fair, healthy competition between companies operating in this sector and to transparency as regards ownership rules;
  33. Fully supports the establishment of an authority at European level which, in strict compliance with the subsidiarity principle, will ensure effective convergence of decisions and programmes and will maintain a permanent watch over the free play of competition and the development of genuine pluralism;
  34. Supports the objective of infrastructure liberalization whilst stressing that this must be based on a broad consensus and take into account the general interest, the public service role performed by telecommunications and the length of time required to implement the necessary changes;
  35. Expresses its concern at the delay in the implementation of the programme relating to the protection of intellectual property, in particular copyright and related rights, and calls for the provisions laid down to be adopted in due course; draws particular attention to the urgency of the directive concerning the use of copies of audio-visual products for private purposes;
  36. Awaits with interest the Commission Green Paper on intellectual property rights in the information society and stresses the need to adopt legislative measures in this field so as to ensure effective protection of creative artists' rights - copyright and related rights - in the process of implementing the 'new media' (on-line services, theme-based channels, pay TV, pay-as-you-view, etc.), which are not necessarily covered by the existing rules;
  37. Considers that the development of digital transmission must be accompanied by increased protection for works covered by copyright and greater efforts to combat piracy in view of the opportunities for manipulating and utilizing works, and recalls in this connection its support for the basic principles of copyright as enshrined in the Berne Convention;
  38. Calls for the proposed revision of Directive 89/552/EEC to be submitted as soon as possible so that its substance can be clarified and strengthened (in particular Articles 4 and 5) and so that the directive can be updated in the light of the major upheavals currently taking place in the field of radio and television broadcasting;
  39. Points out that, as regards the audio-visual sector, there are grounds for consolidating the partially successful results obtained in the GATT negotiations and the freedom of action granted to the European Union, whilst asserting the special nature of the sector and the special treatment it should receive;
  40. Considers that it would be a major error to include all products or all works in a single general information category and therefore stresses the need to guarantee as a matter of urgency, and in a modern, efficient fashion, protection for databases and the freedom of the individual by means of a framework directive on the protection of personal data and privacy;
  41. Shares the concern of those who consider that, if no account is taken of the social, cultural and linguistic aspects of the information society such as it is emerging at international level, if strict coordination is not instituted in the field of scientific research and technological development and if a 'contents strategy' allowing the current challenges to be met is not defined within the audio-visual sector, the hopes raised may well prove to be the results of excessive euphoria rather than the outcome of a serious assessment of existing potential;
  42. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.


OJ C 48, 16.2.1994, p. 1. OJ C 205, 25.7.1994, p. 551.

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