Italy stresses IT as theme of EU presidency

The first major international conference of Italy’s six-month presidency of the European Union will be devoted to e-government, an indication of the importance attached to information technology (IT) by the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s Technological Innovation Minister Lucio Stanca said Tuesday in a press conference, according to various press reports.

The conference will be held in the northern lakeside town of Cernobbio July 7 and 8, just one week after Italy takes over the revolving EU presidency from Greece, and will be attended by 40 ministers with responsibility for the information communication technology (ICT) sector, Stanca told reporters Tuesday.

“E-government is one of the priorities of Italy’s EU presidency,” the minister said, as he unveiled details of the conference, which is being jointly hosted with the European Commission. Executives of leading IT companies such as IBM Corp.’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Samuel J. Palmisano, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann and Electronic Data Systems Corp.’s Chairman and CEO Michael H. Jordan are also expected to attend, Stanca said, according to reports.

“With the decision to organise this conference, the government and the European Commission want to send a strong signal of confidence in the ICT sector, which is a fundamental engine of economic development,” the minister said in a prepared statement also released Tuesday. The conference will place the themes of the information society and the digitalization of public administrations at the center of the European economic debate, the statement said.

Around 1,000 attendees will discuss topics such as “Making e-government a success” and “The role of e-government in European competitiveness.” The conference will review 65 best practice projects selected by the European Commission from more than 400 proposals, Stanca said, according to reports. Among them are a digital cartography project from Italy, a customs administration project from Turkey, an e-voting system developed by the city of Sheffield in Britain, and a Spanish project for advertizing and disposing of seized property over the Internet, according to reports. Prizes will be awarded for the top three projects, Stanca said, according to reports.

The conference will also look at ways to make public administration services available to citizens on a Europe-wide basis, Stanca said in a press conference last week. Digital national health cards, for example, should be readable throughout the European Union, he said last week. “We will be launching the idea of European citizenship, with Europe’s public administration available online at the service of its citizens,” Stanca said last week.

Information on the conference is available at