ERCIM News No.26 - July 1996

Mediterranean Workshop

by Jean-Michel Chassériaux

ERCIM organized the workshop 'The Information Society in the Euro-Mediterranean context: Research and Information Technologies' under the aegis of the European Union 1-2 April in Sophia-Antipolis, France. The workshop was attended by 130 invited researchers and politicians from 24 countries. This workshop resulted in concrete propositions and a report which was presented at a ministerial Euro-Mediterranean forum in Rome 30-31 May. This forum seeks to associate the countries around the Mediterranean basin into the Information Society, in order to avoid the rupture between the North and the South of the Mediterranean.

The Sophia-Antipolis workshop allowed the identification of a few major lines which could underpin a Euro-Mediterranean scientific and technical cooperation policy capable of contributing to a harmonious transition towards an information society. It is located at the crossing point of two very different tendencies which have converged since 1994. The first is the emergence of the information society whose impact on lifestyle has been often compared to that of the first industrial revolution. The second is the relaunch of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation initiated by the Council of Europe of December 1994 which confirmed the strategic character of the Mediterranean zone for the European Union and set itself the objective of establishing a genuine Euro-Mediterranean partnership.

The Italian presidency of the European Union organised, on 30 - 31 May, in Rome, a ministerial forum on the information society: communication, education and training, research, prepared by three workshops including the one set up on 1- 2 April at Sophia-Antipolis, more focused on research. Researchers can and should play a major role in this transition towards the information society and new information technology can, in return, give new impetus to research in the southern countries of the Mediterranean.

The workshop was able to draw up a few concrete proposals:
Whatever its form, a simple and clear reference framework is indispensable. It should cover all the activities concerned, from basic research to support in the installation of national and regional networks and demonstration projects. It will be open to all in the private sector or the public sector, as long as they are competent,. One should in fact note that many projects can be considered to have sprung from social demand and are therefore not very likely to interest the market in the long term. The experience acquired in the framework of cooperation programmes with Central and East European countries should here be used while taking into account the specific features of the Mediterranean countries.

Important financial means have been announced. They should be used effectively. Europe cannot continue to develop by ignoring its closest environment and information technology is not only a means of establishing daily links between the two shores of the Mediterranean but also a means of favouring general economic development.

More information, including the proceedings of the conference, is available at:

Please contact:
Jean-Michel Chassériaux - ERCIM Manager
Tel: +33 1 3963 5303

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