Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1360-
THURSDAY 8 JUNE 2000
M BENOIT BATTISTELLI,
M GILLES BREGANT,
M BERNARD SPITZ,
M HENRI BREUIL,
M GILLES D'ANCHALD,
M PHILIPPE LE
QUEMENT, M EDOUARD
M LAURENT PERDIOLAT
1360. What do you think will emerge at the European
Summit Meeting at Feira at the end of June? Will the French Presidency
wish to change emphasis on any part of the Action Plan? Also,
what does Brussels need to do to improve its own policy making
processes, so that the achievements of the Portuguese and French
Presidencies in developing and implementing the e-Europe Action
Plan are not lost?
(M Breuil) We are pretty happy with the proposition
of the Commission to an action plan on e-Europe. We will know
a little more in a few days after Feira. We are happy. We may
underline some aspects to foster the R & D aspects, to underline
too the cybercrime aspects, the digital divide, European content
and maybe to try to have more implication on Internet governance,
particularly to create a ".eu". But at the end of the
day we are pretty happy with the proposition. About the follow
up, the French Presidency will do a follow-up of this action and
we hope that the action plan will be adopted in Feira and maybe
it will be different with the Portuguese Presidency but we will
try to have something more orthodox to ask for the follow-up.
I mean we will submit the follow-up to the co-rapporteur and to
the expert groups. It is not the case actually. The General Affairs
Council may co-ordinate but it is not a good place to talk about
1361. You will have some Amsterdam leftovers
to deal with as well, will you not, by 31 December, which will
be high on the agenda and priorities? On question 13 in part we
have already touched on this unless there is anything further
you want to add to it, any special arrangements that you have
devised. We have a minister entirely responsible for e-commerce,
Mrs Hewitt, who reports direct to the Prime Minister. She now
has what is known as an E-Envoy, a senior civil servant who has
very considerable individual powers and freedoms to roam and to
move around between agencies and departments and to try to seek
co-ordination in a way that sometimes the individual agencies
and departments are not willing to move themselves. He can come
in and try to stimulate change.
(M Battistelli) In France we have a so-called e-Minister
who is M Pierret, Minister in charge of Industry and Telecommunications
and Public Services. That is part of a larger portfolio. We used
to have an E-Envoy with M Lorentz. He has just resigned and he
will be replaced very soon, I suppose, so we have this organisation
which is the task force with high level people and even some input
into traditional administrations in order to make progress on
1362. I was interested in the programme that
you outlined for effecting the changes in the government machine.
You talked about prefects and their role and you talked also about
having what I would describe as champions in the regions. Are
they kinds of envoys?
(M Bre«gant) I think they are not placed under
the control of the E-Envoy. They are simply experts who are put
in the regions, they have not got the authority of the general
secretary of the region, the regional prefect in fact, so this
is simply indicative that the region has some experts that are
able to cast a cold eye on things. We must take into account that
before the structure was organised with what is now France Telecom
we had a nice infra structure system which was in fact a public
telecommunications administration in every region. They were the
normal experts for the regions. Each time you wanted to create
an infra structure they would give some advice and they were questioned
about this. Now it is totally different so we have put new technical
advisers which are totally different from the operators. They
have no competition bias and they can give advice as to what is
adequate for building some infra structures, for services and
for everything that deals with e-society. Expertise is not extremely
high there. I think it is the state's duty to put persons into
1363. An interesting concept. We have a more
diffuse local government structure than you have. I am not quite
sure whether this is the point we should take away and think about
in the context of not so much what is happening in the UK but
perhaps what is not happening outside central government.
(M Spitz) Mrs Hewitt is on services?
1364. She is in the Department of Trade and
Industry. She is a Minister in there and she has her own structure
within it but she does not have a local regional structure accountable
(M Spitz) And does she take control of the services
of the Ministry of Industry which were previously in charge of
the new technologies? Has she created a new administration?
1365. It is not as simple as I described. Government
administration never is, is it? There is a Minister responsible
in the Cabinet Office for changing government issues, online government
issues. She is responsible for e-commerce which really has an
overview but she is primarily focusing on the industry side of
issues and the relationship with Europe and what is developing
there and our international relationships as well. She is coming
to OECD next week. She has a support staff there but she does
not have responsibility in quite the way you describe over here.
(M Spitz) And the envoy is independent from her?
Chairman: He is working to her and he also works
to the other Minister that I mentioned who deals with e-government
issues. We rather suspect that every time there is a very difficult
problem and a difficult target to be hit, he is given responsibility
for it. He is a former Treasury senior civil servant.
Lord Faulkner: And a former Private Secretary
to the Prime Minister.
1366. He is very considerable experience of
the government machine and he has recently been in Australia,
Alex Allan. Shall we move on? How do you deal with the problem
of inter-Ministerial funding for Internet projects?
(M Bre«gant) In fact our situation is rather
simple. We have a general blueprint for inter-ministerial systems.
The blueprint, which is the 1997 blueprint, is refreshed every
year through the Inter-Ministerial Commission on Information Societies
(CISI). The refreshment is also the new version. It gives some
focus to a few measures and then of course, as it is led by the
Prime Minister, there are several ministers here that sign the
paper and each minister has to do his job. The funding comes into
this framework in fact. Normally during the CISI every minister
has to put some money on the table to say they will do something
for intranet and they will pay for intra-net for the out-services
but for what remains a true intranet funding then it is usually
very small but we have small amounts that can be shifted through
the Commission. The levels are rather reduced. In fact it is something
called FIN, which is funding for informatics in ministries and
it varies between 25 and 50 million French francs and it is sufficient
to make up for what is not foreseen. Normally it is co-financing
under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
1367. How do you get the blueprint for the co-ordination?
How do you get the gleam in the eye? This is the problem we see.
(M Bre«gant) This is the traditional way of working
in the French administration. Currently we are preparing one,
we are drafting one at the end of this month. Each ministry brings
this wish list saying what they would like to see in the blueprint.
Then one of the ministries tells the secretary so he puts together
all the wish lists and then we take the wishes out of the list
and in the end this is the list. There are a number of meetings
which are led under the direction of the Prime Minister's staff.
1368. One of the duties of the E-Envoy will
be himself to identify areas where maybe the agencies and the
departments have not come up with the ideas which cross boundaries
because perhaps they put at risk some of their own territorial
advantage. He has the freedom to identify areas that cross boundaries
and then to try to create budgets, take money from each of their
budgets to create a new budget which will then fund the exercise.
(M Battistelli) It is always the same. In fact, we
have in France the office of the Prime Minister which is rather
strong on two aspects. First, it is strong on legal and administrative
expertise. When you have a project it must go through this expertise
in order to be proposed to the Council of State and to be proposed
to the Commission. He is also strong because he has a lot of advisers
who are in charge of covering certain fields of activities. When
there is a strong political orientation saying, for instance,
you must develop e-activities, then the adviser goes to the Prime
Minister. One of his advisers is in charge of implementing this
orientation. He has the authority to call the different ministries
who may be concerned in order to discuss with them what can be
done and how it can be financed. Then there is a decision which
is taken, written in the document, that is what we call the blueprint
because it is written on blue sheets.
(M Bre«gant) I was using "blueprint"
in the English sense of a plan.
(M Battistelli) For that then he is doing also the
follow-up. Every month or on a regular basis he knows what kind
of progress he has made and so on. You are right. Some ministries
may be not political but when there are strong political wills
they are not in a position to be too slow.
1369. I think we have done the last question
already at the beginning when we talked about industry. In general
terms how do you see other countries, Member States, how do you
view them? Do you think we are going to be able to move well together
to try to catch up with the States?
(M Spitz) We think that the future is not written
yet but we are all optimistic about the development of e-commerce
inside the Union. We consider that the development of the wireless,
the development of the convergence through digital television,
all these are instruments which support drastically the development
of e-commerce especially in countries like France which could
have a delay in terms of equipment as compared with the UK or
Germany which are strong in terms of mobile phones or digital
television. In terms of figures we have here the last report from
Jupiter which is from last week. We have here provisions for the
year 2005 of 64 billion euros as compared with 7.6 for the year
2000, and with 85 million consumers in the Union, and when you
look at the division between countries you have on this 64 billions
you have Germany 18.2, UK 17.3, France is 7.6 only, Italy is 4.2,
and all the others are small figures. When you look at the category
of spendings, the first category is in terms of money in the year
2005, it is travels and tours for 17.6 billion, then you have
groceries for 9.6, PCs for 8.0 and books are 3.0 and software
is 3.9. This gives some indication. We consider that there will
not be any interference in Europe and this will be a part of commerce
which will not weaken drastically the traditional commerce. We
believe that the larger groceries will keep back the business
of e-commerce too because they have the logistics which are very
important. I think that the development could only be troubled
by problems of security and technical problems and especially
problems of security, security of payment, and then we come back
to the financial aspects.
Chairman: I think we have managed to get through
the questions, believe it or not. Apologies to my colleagues who
would like to have asked other questions.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester
1370. The answers have been excellent, very
(M Battistelli) Thank you very much indeed. We hope
it has been useful.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.