Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum by EURIM

  The Select Committee asked why, if the UK really was ahead of the rest of the EU, it had nothing equivalent to CeBIT.

  I have asked John Riley, who regularly attends CeBIT on behalf of Computer Weekly to do you a note on his impressions of this years' Show. I attended the IT Skills Summit in Brussels on Tuesday (covered in the UK press).

  The salient points that I take from John's report back to me and the IDC presentation at the IT Skills Summit are:

    (1)  Non-UK observers expect Germany, not the UK, to be the powerhouse of EU e-commerce. It is only those Brits who do not follow what is happening elsewhere who think we are ahead of the rest of Europe. We are said to be noisy in EU meetings and tend not to listen to others, let alone understand what they are saying if they do not have good English.

    (2)  There is a widespread expectation in other parts of the EU that WAP (Wireless) Mobiles will be more important than PCs and browsers for business to consumer e-commerce before the year is out (c.f. UK forecasts for Digital TV being more important). The French Minitel experience with the business to consumer market and that of Sweden and Finland with local language websites is felt by many to be more relevant to EU markets than that of the USA.

    (3)  There is a growing German/Scandinavian trend towards using Linux rather than Windows as the "glue" to link the websites to the supply chain to provide reliable and cost-effective fulfilment (with the UK seen as being well behind in this area).

    (4)  The UK is now seen as an exporter of IS/IT skills (particularly to Germany and the US). This is expected to increase. The reasons are partly to do with contract rates and partly to do with after-tax earnings and life-style for high-paid youngsters working abroad.

  I do not necessarily agree with all these points but believe they merit serious consideration.

Philip Virgo,
Secretary General, EURIM

10 March 2000

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