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|Title:||EU Enlargement: Economic Development and the Information Society|
|Abstract:||This book offers the unique result of international scientific networking activity. Twenty scientists from thirteen different countries of the enlarged Europe and from several types of scientific institutions (Academies of Sciences, Universities, Non-profit research Institutes, etc.) have joined forces to offer us their insight and analysis about the development of the Information Society in their respective countries. Today, as privileged witnesses, they offer us their views about the Information Society developments during the five first years of the new millennium. These developments being at the core of the European Union's policy agenda, their analysis for the States that entered or are willing to enter the European Union is very central to the objectives of the Union. It encompasses the issues of technological development and absorption, of economic growth and of cohesion across the Union. The network of scientists also opened a complexity perspective over the various concrete facets of Information Society and its implementation paths given the wide range of diverse economic conditions and sometimes strikingly different cultural and societal features. In as much as the Information Society is a common objective for all member and candidate countries, the importance of the local context proves in this case a major driver of its actual build-up. Nevertheless, these countries share a common background. The main research effort of the book is to research the interdependence between the implementation of information society and the general economic development. Was the investment in the Information Society seen as likely to prove beneficial soon enough so to motivate it overtaking other, more obvious priorities, giving the lower life quality at the beginning of transition? It appears from this book that the history of Information Society take-up in those countries has mainly been indeed the history of a dilemma: that of lagging behind or catching-up, while being under harsh constraints. What has been witnessed throughout the 2000-2005 period rather looks like systematic efforts towards catching-up. This is very good news: at the turn of the century, the overall economic and social conditions of the at-the-time candidate countries were such that, for most analysts, these countries risked not taking any path towards the Information Society . Several of those countries appear to have taken the innovative path earlier, and in fact growing evidence of some leap-frogging exists today. One can observe that these countries started earlier the technological upgrade of their economy, often favoured by better legacies and domestic dynamics, and as a result present some better techno-economic features today. However there is still a long way to go: the societal transformation towards a truly Knowledge Society – called upon by the Lisbon objectives of the European Union - encompasses long-lasting and important intellectual and financial investment. In essence, catching-up is not enough. The evidence assembled here shows that all thirteen countries still have the opportunity to enter the game. With the support of the Cohesion Funds and strong commitment from their national and regional governments and the private sector, all countries are in position to use ICT pro-actively to support the structural reform of major public services and demonstrate their capacity to reap the economic, social and political benefits of the 21st century's most pervasive technologies.|
|JRC Directorate:||Growth and Innovation|
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