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Nancy PASCALL

CONNECT started from a DG III unit which mutated to the ESPRIT TASK FORCE then to DG XIII then to DG INFSO and then to DG CONNECT.

The ESPRIT TF was initially located in A25 and then the administration and Telecoms part moved to J70 in a new building. This was summer-autumn 1984. In the autumn of 1984 there was a "shared" between DG VIII (Transport) and the TF. The Director General was initially "à titre personnel" and he only became DG with the DG III mutation. DG XIII was mainly in Luxembourg with an antenna office in Brussels. It took 78 versions of the organigramme to become DG XIII. Director General Michel Carpentier who stayed until he went on pension and the two directors: JM Cadiou for ESPRIT and Schuringa for Telecoms (from the TF) and one in Lux. TF. Within 3 years another programme + director were added: RACE with Roland Hueber and the first applications DELTA, DRIVE, AIM and ORA (did not quite take off) as well as applications for teleworking, egov etc (what later became a Dir).

The rumour was at the time that Hueber was discussing the idea of ESPRIT in the lift in the Berlaymont and Com. D' Avignon heard them and ask them to go and tell him the idea which he liked and promoted.

Buildings occupied: Archimede 25, Joseph II 70 and 35, Rue des Treves 2, Breydel, Nerviens and Beaulieu. First people in BU (9) - RACE programme in October 1992. There was no one in the BU big building and there was not even electricity on the first day we moved which was a Friday.

Gerald SANTUCCI

ORA (Opportunities for Rural Areas) went on not too badly thanks to Peter Johnson and tne regretted Jacques Agniel.

Two other programmes did not fly after a few years: DIME (a visionary R&D programme, managed by Monique McLaughlin during 1987, to foster what eventually became the euro) and PERT (Improving the Productivity of European Product Development and Commercialization, an initiative managed by... Jesus Villasante during 1986).

Gerald SANTUCCI 12-Mar-2013

The ESPRIT programme (the European Strategic Programme for Research in Information Technologies) started in 1983 as a pilot phase in response to a McKinsey & Co. Study commissioned by Commissioner Etienne Davignon "A call for action: The European Information Technology Industry" *, 10 years after the collapse of the so-called Unidata project (1973-1975 - http://www.feb-patrimoine.com/projet/histoire_informatique/histoire_unidata.htm) **.

The one-year pilot phase was followed by 4 mainstream ESPRIT programme:

•Esprit I: 1984-87 •Esprit II: 1987-90 •Esprit III: 1990-94, and •Esprit IV: 1994-98), all jointly funded by the Commission and the participating organisations. The Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002) initiated the Information Society Technology (IST) Programme, placing all European Commission information and communication technologies (ICT) research under one umbrella programme. We are still applying the same idea of a single integrated programme today.


  • McKinsey & Co., Report to Commission of the European Community, Brussels, January 1983.


Quote: "In today' s increasingly competitive world markets established positions are being challenged. European PTTs have neither aggressively stimulated IT technology and applications nor served as demanding leading edge customers of European IT companies. Rather than contributing to the development of a competitive European teleconununications industry, the policies have generally slowed progress and fragmented the European market. Most European PTTs are well behind the US in introducing new technology in their networks ••• Individual national markets are not large enough to cover the development costs of a number of teleconununications products. The cost of new lines of digital networks, including software development and maintenance costs range from $700 million to $1 billion. At the normal 7% of sales devoted to research, the sales required to justify the research and development are almost $16 billion. That is well over the size of the largest European national market" (McKinsey & Co).


    • Arising out of a Franco-German bilateral link, Unidata seemed to offer a possibility of creating a "European IBM". Governments were to combine their national programmes in support of the Unidata Group, whose aim was both to develop and market a new range of computers. The industrialists involved suggested that thorough collaboration required a merger under a single management. But this solution was unacceptable to the French Government (President Giscard d'Estaing at that time) that wanted Honeywell-Bull and CII to merge under 51% French ownership and be party of a global arrangement to market and share products with Honeywell US. French failure to consult either the German Government or Siemens embittered relations and contributed to Unidata's subsequent collapse.

Gerald SANTUCCI 12-Mar-2013

It is worth noting that the original R&D programmes were somewhat jointly managed by DG XIII and industry:

•The ESPRIT programme was closely monitored by the European Information technology Industry Roundtable (EITIRT) (often referred to as "the ESPRIT Roundtable" or "the Big 12" or "the 12 Apostles") •The RACE programme (R&D in Advanced Communication Networks in Europe) * was closely monitored by the RACE Industrial Consortium (RIC).

Meetings between the Roundtable working groups and DG XIII officials were taking place on a regular basis although without any formal agreement. The Roundtable even sought to convince the President of the EC and his/her Commissioners to hold meetings on a fixed, regular basis but the Commission declined to accept such proposals. Over the years there has been clearly a decline in the Roundtable's influence with the Commission compared to its influence when ESPRIT was launched. This has never been properly analyzed.


A second consideration is that both ESPRIT and RACE were managed by strong, very experienced officials, respectively Jean-Marie Cadiou (and his close colleague Horst Hünke) and Roland Hüber (and his close colleague Spyros Konidaris). These Directors were both leaders and managers, possibly more the former than the latter, and under the leadership of Michel Carpentier created the conditions that eventually made that we have a job in DG Connect today! After Cadiou and Hüber came George Metakides (ESPRIT), Herbert J. Allgeier (ACTS) and Michel Richonnier (Telematics Applications Programme).


  • The RACE programme started with a definition phase in January 1985, followed by a main phase programme in 1986 (actually in 1987 when the Single Act was formally adopted). RACE became the ACTS programme (Advanced Communications Technologies and Services) when the 4th Research Framework Programme (FP4) started.

Gerald SANTUCCI 13-Mar-2013

I am pleased that 2013 is being recognized as an anniversary - actually the correct "birth date" must be 1983 (launch of ESPRIT pilot phase), not 1993 (which is important, though, because of the publication of Jacques Delors' White Paper on 'Growth, Competitiveness and Employment', COM(93) 700, 5 December 1993).


I proposed some months ago that ICT2013 includes a special session marking the 30th anniversary of EU collaborative research, but this idea was not retained. I regret it because I am convinced that there exists no engaging future without remembering the roots. We need what I like to call "roots and wings" in order "to seek a newer world" (to parody the book written by Robert F. Kennedy in 1967). Few of those who made that research became a major part of the EU Treaty still live today (I have in mind at least Carpentier, Hüber, Richonnier, Metakides etc.) and 2013 is the last chance to collect their testimony and evidence, not for mourning over a glorious past but for drawing useful lessons and showing both continuity and progress.


In other words we need a compass, not a map! A compass can tell us where our true north is, it can direct us when all else fails. We’ve never faced challenges quite like those in this generation. If we want to diagnose and address these challenges, we need to give them a compass as they move into their future. For me, anniversaries are milestones which remind us where we come from and guide us, together with other evidence, towards the future.


When I was working in the RACE programme, all proposals submitted to a call were arriving in Rue de Trèves 61 at 17:00 and the whole RACE team was there to collect them, open the envelopes, allocate each proposal to experts, and even identify any administrative and financial problems. Roland Hüber was there of course to orchestrate the work and distribute pizzas, sandwiches and drinks, all paid from his purse, to his colleagues. By midnight everything was ready and on the next morning by 9:00 all experts had their proposals package fit for evaluation. Today there is a time gap between the call deadline and the beginning of the evaluation. I know the reasons for that and I do not intend to challenge them. Just to say that if we had a strong political will to reduce the time to grant we should remember that no procedure or rule is fixed for ever and that past experiences may provide us with useful incentive to reconsider our practices and focus more on the goal than on the process.


I have many more souvenirs and experiences that I would like to share and I will try to find the time to do it soon.

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