Memorandum by the Ministry of Industry,
Employment and Communications, Stockholm, Sweden
The Swedish government has recently presented
a government bill. The bill contains a broad strategy to stimulate
the use of Information Technology, the purpose is to make an Information
Society for all.
1. What needs to be done to create confidence
and to stimulate e-commerce?
To create confidence and stimulate e-commerce
there is a need for secure communications, a common knowledge
about information technology and general access to the information
Common use of electronic communications is dependent
on a secure identification of the other part and certainty that
the message has not been changed. The Swedish government will
implement the EU-Directive on Electronic Signatures by presenting
a bill on electronic signatures to the Riksdag in May 2000. The
government will also revise existing regulations in order to make
it possible to replace a traditional signature with an electronic
The government's decision on tax reductions
for PCs, provided by employers since the 1st of January 1998,
has been very important for the development of electronic commerce
in Sweden. Today there are PCs in 58 per cent of Swedish homes.
The government is now working to improve the ICT infrastructure
in the sparsely populated areas of Sweden.
Information and education are also very important
measures especially for consumers and SMEs. It is important for
the development of electronic commerce that the users feel at
ease with this new medium. The government has a broad educational
programme to improve ICT skills on different levels eg schools,
universities, and for the working force. There also work going
on to support SMEs and consumers in their use of electronic commerce.
2. Does the European Commission's draft Action
Plan: "eEurope: An Information Society for all" offer
a realistic means of promoting e-commerce in the EU?
Sweden welcomes the Commission's initiative
eEurope in general. It is important to support the development
of electronic commerce and secure communications. This is an area
where the Member States can promote the development by working
together in areas like standardisation and regulation. Electronic
procurement is also an important way to increase the use of electronic
commerce. It is an area where the state both can lead by example
and make their own authorities more effective and less costly.
The access to public information could be facilitated by governments
Sweden believes that Europe should aim for a
technically neutral legal framework for secure electronic communication
in order not to restrain new technical innovations. It is positive
that the standardisation work is urged in order to find a system
that works in all Member States. The future system must also be
accepted outside the EU. Sweden therefore welcomes initiatives
regarding co-operation between Member States and non Member States.
3. Will codes of conduct and co-regulation
provide sufficient protection? Is there a case for intervention
by national governments and the EU?
The Swedish government believes that codes of
conduct or some other form of self-regulation, in some areas have
advantages compared to traditional legislation. Since the technical
development in this area is very fast there is a need for a more
flexible regulation than traditional legislation.
The Swedish government is positive to increased
use of self-regulation. At the same time certain conditions on
the current market must be taken into consideration. The Swedish
government intend to overview the possibilities to promote self-regulation
within the international co-operation.
The European Union is proposing to establish
an expert group with the Global Business dialogue on electronic
commerce (GBDe) in order to start a political Dialogue with the
GBDe. A co-ordination of the various initiatives might be useful.
Sweden believes that increased co-ordination will be useful for
the future work on self-regulation.
4. Do the institutions of national governments,
on the one hand, and the European Commission, the Council of Ministers
and the European Parliament, on the other, function with sufficient
flexibility and coherence to promote the EU's objectives in the
field of e-commerce?
A way forward to realising the Internal Market
is electronic commerce. In many areas, Europe is scattered into
national markets not making full use of the potential of the Internal
Market. This is in our view also the case for e-commerce, where
a more coherent approach but still based on the principle of subsidiarity
could be developed. To mention one example, the use of IT in public
procurement. The development of common standards to facilitate
e-commerce on a European level would greatly support the development
ofe-commerce and the Internal Market.
5. Should existing EU institutions' internal
structures be changed, or new ones created, to improve policy
development and co-ordination?
Sweden believes that there is a need for some
kind of organisation that, on a European level, could be a focal
point and support the development of co-ordinated approaches.
It would operate in a networked way [drawing] on centres of competence
in the Member States. Such an organisation should support policy
development in the Commission and could comprise the following
IT observatory and the gathering
of best practices;
benchmarking and follow-up on targets
(eg from the e-Europe Action Plan);
development of common agreements
and voluntary standards as the basis for new products and services.
6. How can structural change be brought about
fast enough to accommodate to the growth of e-commerce?
It is important to let the different applications
of electronic commerce develop without unnecessary influence.
The development of electronic commerce should mainly be market-led,
which means that regulations should only be applied when eg trade
standards and agreements are inadequate measures. It is important
that the legal framework is designed whereby the development of
electronic commerce is facilitated. This legal framework should,
to the greatest extent possible, be neutral in relation to the
It is important that public authorities and
organisations actively contribute to developments in electronic
commerce. Public agencies should represent a model as regards
the use of information technology and develop electronic services
that facilitate contacts for citizens and enterprises eg by facilitating
public procurement by electronic means and to ensure broad knowledge
and skills among the entire population regarding information technology
in general and electronic commerce in particular.
It is also important to have a generally accessible
infrastructure of high capacity that satisfies high demands on
31 March 2000