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IP/06/91

Brussels, 30 January 2006

European Union seeks to strengthen partnership with Mercosur countries on information and communication technologies

The economic competitiveness and social inclusiveness of the Information Society in Europe and in Mercosur countries will be on the agenda of EU Commission talks with key ministers in Brazil and Argentina today and tomorrow. Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, is looking for ways to build on EU cooperation with Brazil and Argentina in research spheres such as mobile broadcasting, software, and satellite communications, and by developing practical applications of these technologies for Latin America. She will also discuss with the Brazilian and Argentine authorities the development of digital TV and the economic and social importance of choosing the right standard.

"Information and communication technologies have huge potential to foster economic competitiveness and social cohesion throughout Europe and Latin America”, said Commissioner Reding at the beginning of her visit. “I am looking for an Information Society crossing continental borders, and I see a strong potential in the relationship between the EU and Mercosur. The EU is the Mercosur countries’ most important trade partner and is already supporting the partnership with Mercosur in Information Society technologies under our research and cooperation programmes. This partnership could be further strengthened with financing from the European Investment Bank, as well as by stepping up bilateral dialogue on policy and regulatory practice in this field."

Background on EU-Mercosur relations as regards the Information Society

Research

Research organisations in Brazil, Argentina and other Mercosur countries (Paraguay and Uruguay) participate in various projects under Europe's Information and Society Technologies (IST) research programme, including mobile broadcasting, open source software, power line communications, and satellite communications. These research projects can also benefit European companies, by helping them gain access to Latin American markets through common test beds and by exchanging best practices. The EU’s IST programme has a budget of €3.6 billion for 2002-2006, and co-operation should be stepped up in the next IST programme, which runs from 2007 to 2013.

The @LIS programme

The Alliance for the Information Society (@LIS) programme is an EU-Latin America co-operation programme that aims to harness information society technologies to boost economic competitiveness and social inclusion. This programme has a €77.5 million budget, €63.5 of which is financed by the European Commission. @LIS aims to build a long-term partnership between the two regions in the information society field, and provides for: a dialogue on policy and regulatory aspects, the development of standards, the implementation of demonstration projects in favour of civil society, a network of regulators and the interconnection of research and education networks.

Digital TV

Mercosur and other Latin American countries are currently reflecting on the modalities for introducing digital terrestrial TV. In this week’s talks, Commissioner Reding will reiterate the EU’s willingness to work together with these countries to exploit the potential of this key technology for social cohesion and economic and industrial development.

Commissioner Reding will be accompanied during her visit to Brazil and Argentina by a high-level delegation of representatives of major European companies, which wish to confirm their commitment to invest and to support the development of the Information Society in Mercosur countries.

Further information :

ICT Research: http://www.cordis.lu/ist/

@LIS: http://europa.eu/alis

Mercosur: http://www.eu.int/comm/external_relations/mercosur/intro/

Brazil: http://www.eu.int/comm/external_relations/brazil/intro/index.htm

Argentina: http://www.eu.int/comm/external_relations/argentina/intro/index.htm


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