Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft


Ottawa, 16 December 1999 14075/99 (Presse 420)


Subject :



The European Union and the Government of Canada attach great importance to the development of an information society and economy, and recognise the importance of working together, both bilaterally and through multilateral efforts to create a co-ordinated and consistent international approach aimed at maximising benefits for all. Electronic commerce, in particular, will be an integral part of the information economy - enhancing productivity, creating jobs, fostering new markets and offering consumers greater choice.

EU and Canada share a vision for the development of a global information society, and recognise the need for an international environment, which supports the growth of electronic commerce and maximises social potential for citizens. In order to foster this environment, they will actively work in concert with the private sector, civil society and international organisations to:

Promote trust and confidence in the global marketplace by ensuring that the frameworks and safeguards address such issues as privacy, security, and consumer protection.

Ensure that relevant legal and commercial frameworks apply to electronic transactions and do not unduly impede the potential of electronic commerce.

Encourage the growth of, and access to, high quality information infrastructure and services through effective competition.

Maximise the social and economic benefits resulting from the emergence of a digital economy and a global information society.

Promote cultural and linguistic diversity in the information society by enabling wider access to cultural heritage and content such as new audio-visual services.

Stimulate the development and diffusion of the Information Society through government practices including on line access to government information, electronic procurement, and promotion of open and interoperable systems.

Privacy: EU and Canada consider that legislative frameworks for the protection of privacy and personal information are a vital component of electronic commerce strategy and beneficial to the evolution of an information society. Internationally, EU and Canada will support a standards-based approach to complement national frameworks.

Security: EU and Canada agree on the necessity of policies to facilitate the use of technologies for authentication and for the conduct of secure electronic commerce. To this end, they will discuss the various technological options for providing authentication. EU and Canada will explore mechanisms to enhance international co- operation to combat illegal activities and to empower users with regards to potentially harmful content.

Consumer protection: EU and Canada believe that measures to provide consumers with a means to exercise choice, settle grievances and have lawful recourse to the resolution of disputes in an electronic environment (including online dispute settlement schemes) are central to the orderly development of electronic commerce. Consequently, they will discuss approaches to increase consumer confidence, protection and education.

Partnerships: Given the acknowledged need for collaboration with the private sector and civil society in the development of global electronic commerce, EU and Canada will endeavour to include stakeholder interests in these activities. Particular attention will be given to the facilitation of self-regulatory and co-regulatory approaches within appropriate or regulatory frameworks.

The EU and Canada also recognise the importance of business partnerships to the growth of global electronic commerce, and continue to support the collaboration by European and Canadian private sectors through broader co-operation initiatives, in particular in the area of research and development in information and communications technologies.

Co-operation in Multilateral fora: EU and Canada will continue to make use of multilateral fora to pursue shared objectives for a global information society. In this regard, EU and Canada will especially:

_ continue to collaborate to establish frameworks within the OECD on taxation, consumer and privacy issues

_ collaborate on WIPO initiatives related to intellectual property and electronic commerce

_ Co-operate in the ongoing development of Internet governance, in particular by contributing to the work of ICANN.

_ work actively to further the WTO Work Program on Electronic Commerce with a view to reaching consensus on what is needed to realize the potential contribution of electronic commerce to all WTO members and to achieving a comprehensive review of the implications of electronic commerce and its means of delivery for the application of WTO agreements and future negotiations, agreeing as they do that electronic commerce falls within the existing body of trade rules.

Follow up: Canada and the EU agree to pursue the issues contained in this statement as part of their regular bilateral consultations on telecommunications and electronic commerce as key elements in the development of the global Information Society. A progress report will be submitted to the next Canada-EU Summit.