Brussels, 26 September 2001
Euro Info Centres' e-business campaign: getting SMEs involved in electronic commerce
The Euro Info Centres' e-business campaign has just been launched. Set up as part of the "GoDigital" initiative ('Helping SMEs to go digital'(1)), this campaign aims to provide information and practical advice to SMEs that are keen to adopt e-commerce or to those that are still ill-informed about its possibilities and mechanisms. It is being run in 18 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
E-business is among the priorities on the European Union's agenda. That was why, in December 1999, the European Commission launched an initiative of the utmost importance, eEurope(2). This initiative, which was endorsed by the Member States in June 2000, sets out an ambitious programme for improving and consolidating Europe's competitive position with regard to the use of the new information and communication technologies. It includes a specific action, GoDigital, which aims to encourage SMEs to incorporate the Internet into their activities and engage in electronic commerce.
The information campaign on e-commerce run by the 282 Euro Info Centres (EIC), which constitute one of the European Commission's networks devoted to supporting business, is one of the first operations launched as part of the GoDigital initiative. The EICs, working under the aegis of the Commission's Directorate-General for Enterprise, are situated in the countries of the European Union, Norway, Iceland and some countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean basin. They provide businesses with information, advice and assistance. They offer a wide range of services, from information on Community matters to searching out partners and helping to launch projects.
Each national e-business campaign will offer a range of targeted services tailored to the needs of businesses in the country concerned, such as talks and workshops on the practical aspects of electronic commerce, audits, advice on strategy, the establishment of pilot groups of businesses and other forms of assistance to tackle the problems encountered.
Some of these activities will be targeted at particular fields or sectors. In addition, follow-up for each operation will be provided for a period of six months, during which SMEs will have the benefit of supplementary information and services. This will enable them to examine new options or rethink their approach.
The programmes of activities in each of the 18 countries are being published at the following addresses:
(1) Commission Communication, COM(2001) 136 final