Commission adopts a Communication on the social and labour market dimension of the information society

The European Commission adopted a Communication in July 1997 aimed at stimulating debate on the social and labour market dimension of the "information society", as a follow-up to its 1996 Green Paper on Living and working in the information society.

In its Communication on People first - the next steps, adopted on 23 July 1997, the European Commission argues that the social dimension of the "information society" needs to be strengthened further if the European Union is to take full advantage of the job-creation potential and improvements in the quality of life potentially offered by new information and communication technologies (ICT s). It sets out a strategy for achieving this objective at national, European and international level.

The Communication constitutes the follow-up to the Green Paper Living and working in the information society - People first, which was published in July 1996, and aims to stimulate the debate on the labour market and social issues involved.

The Communication focuses on four main aspects:

  • public policies for the Information Society aimed at improving democracy and social justice, strengthening the capacity for employment creation, enhancing equal opportunities for women and men, supporting people with special needs, and improving the quality and efficiency of public administration;
  • access to infrastructure, application and services to ensure the development of an inclusive information society;
  • flexibility/security: ICTs offer immense potential for the establishment of new forms of working. This requires a new balance to be struck between flexibility for companies and security for workers; and
  • developing the employability of the workforce to improve the functioning of the labour market and maximise the employment creation potential of new technologies.

In order to achieve these objectives, the Commission foresees actions to encourage the Member States to carry out an annual review of their implementation of the social and employment aspects of their information society strategies at national, regional and local level. At the EU level, the Commission seeks to integrate the information society dimension into all areas of European social policies. Specific attention will be given to the Structural Funds and the Community initiatives, EMPLOYMENT and ADAPT, as well as the RTD programmes. At the international level, strategies should be developed for the development of technologies which strengthen social cohesion and improve living, learning and working conditions for all groups in society. Lastly, the Commission foresees action to enhance cooperation with other EU institutions to develop strategies to facilitate access to the institutions for the public and for organisations.

The Communication seeks to respond to concerns that new forms of working facilitated by the use of ICTs could lead to a loss of employment and social protection rights, and that the information society could lead to the further exclusion of already disadvantaged groups from the labour market.

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