Memorandum by the German Federal Economics
N.B.: Die aufgeziogten Antwortelemente binden
die Bundesrepublik in keiner Weise. Es handelt sich um Einschatzungen
der politischen Situation aus unserer Sicht.
In our view, the question of consumer confidence
is one of the most crucial points for the development of e-commerce
within Europe. We therefore have put our efforts in building up
a stable and reliable policy framework on the national and European
level. Regulations have been made or are underway in multiple
fields such as privacy protection, e-commerce, consumer protection
or copyright law.
The stimulation of e-commerce will be dependent
on both the offer and the demand of such services. On the offer
side, we encourage start-up companies by loans, information and
services in the field of venture capital. The demand of e-commerce
services can be stimulated by programmes encouraging parts of
society, that are underrepresented in the Internet (such as disabled
persons, women or elderly persons) to participate in the Internet.
The Federal government has launched several programmes to ensure
an inclusive information society.
In our view, the eEurope Action Plan
offers realistic means for promoting e-commerce in Europe. It
is largely in line with the goals set forth in the German Action
Plan for Innovation and Jobs in the Information-Society of the
21st Century. We do think, that the key issues of e-commerce,
that is skills (education and training), Internet for all, public
administration and legal framework are treated in an encouraging
way by the Action Plan. The German government will therefore support
the Action Plan on the European Council in Feira on 19-20 June
Codes of Conduct will play a very important
role in the international regulation of the Internet. Efforts
are already underway within the framework of the "Global
Business Dialogue". The Federal Government supports national
initiatives of self-regulations, that try to establish coherent
criteria for e-commerce labels, such as the "Initiative D-21"
of German companies. However, we do think, that there are areas,
where self-regulation alone cannot solve the problems. This is
particularly the case, when fundamental freedoms are at stake;
this concerns for instance the areas of privacy, the protection
of minors and of consumers. A clear regulatory framework helps
to promote acceptance in the business to consumer field. In a
net-society, these questions can often better be solved on a European
level than on a national one.
Most institutions endeavour to face the challenge
of e-commerce as flexible and quickly as possible. However, the
processes areespecially in the EUtoo slow. It usually
takes four years from the first proposal of the Commission to
the implementation in the member statesoften far longer.
In contrast to the mid-nineties, the commission is currently lacking
a coherent approach towards e-commerce. There are roughly 100
activities with relation to e-commerce without a recognisable
and transparent strategy as the "Rolling Action Plan"
once was. Especially the legal framework needs a coherent approach
with respect to e-commerce, which is currently lacking and has
potential to jeopardise the growth of e-commerce. The (informal)
meeting of five Commissioners to co-ordinate the activities in
the field of e-commerce is a step in the right direction, In addition,
it is necessary to promote the dialogue between the government,
industry and the users. The D-21 processas mentioned aboveor
the Global Business Dialogue are means to speed up the processes
and to raise awareness.
We do think that new structures are not necessary,
the existing structures have potential of an improvement of co-ordination
as the "Rolling Action Plan" of the past demonstrated.
In our view, the new method of "Open Co-ordination"
set forth in Lisbon, is an adequate instrument for adapting the
European society to the challenges of the Information-Society
in a fast, efficient and decentralised way.
26 May 2000