Ministers consider Delors' 100bn pounds hi-tech proposals
Tuesday 14 December 1993
So might you if, like thousands in Brussels yesterday, you could not get a phone line that worked. A software fault threw national and international lines out of kilter, sending business and personal users alike into a screaming frenzy. The quality and quantity of the telecommunications infrastructure in Europe is simply not up to the task.
Telecommunications and information technology are among the main priorities in Mr Delors' White Paper, which was agreed at the summit of European Union leaders on Saturday. Yesterday, finance ministers set up a working group to study the ideas in the Commission President's paper, including how to finance them. A group of 'eminent persons' has been detailed to report to the next meeting of EU leaders.
High technology is one of the key ways, the paper argues, of boosting competitiveness and creating jobs. Building what Mr Delors calls a 'common information area' will buttress the advantages of the single market, it says, in a sector that is rapidly changing and where Europe faces stiff competition from the US and Japan.
The most obvious references to information technology in the report concern big, headline-grabbing, money-eating projects. The paper says that 150bn ecus will be needed over the next 10 years.
It lists eight initiatives. They include a high-speed communication network, electronic mail, video services, links to allow office workers to communicate, and building an integrated services digital network, links that allow voices, images or data to be sent down the same line.
The idea is to connect people working at home, doctors, training facilities, manufacturing plants and even consumers. The main cancer research centres would be linked up; so would 100 universities and schools - and tax authorities.
Research and development is another important element. The EU will spend 12bn ecus between 1994 and 1998, less than the Commission originally wanted but more than some states said they could stand.
It all costs a lot of money. The EU itself is unlikely to put up more than a fraction of the cash, with most coming from national governments and the private sector. They are already gearing up to invest. In the US, their competitors are doing the same as part of President Bill Clinton's project for 'information superhighways' - one of the inspirations for the Delors project. But more will be needed, and there is still disagreement about how, and whether, the EU should raise it.
But parallel to the big task of creating the physical links is something even more important, in the view of most large companies and some governments: deregulating the telephone service. This is an important part of the White Paper, one that the Government backs - because Britain has already gone most of the way down the line.
The importance of these new industries to Europe helps to explain why the audiovisual sector has become such an element in the Gatt talks. It includes a range of new products and technologies in preparation, many using precisely the links that the Delors White Paper proposes to construct. It is hardly surprising that the EU is fighting hard to protect its interests, when so much cash is on the line.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reading are...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM - A high q...
competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...
£10 per hour: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced note taker...