In December 1999, the European Commission launched eEurope, an initiative which endeavoured to bring the Internet in every home and school, and in every business and administration in the 15-nation European Union. It had 10 priority areas of action. The first of these related to young people, schools, as well as public places, including those located in the most disadvantaged areas. But eEurope was also designed to reduce the cost of Internet access. Electronic commerce was another area of activity for eEurope. What was envisaged here was a series of complementary measures aimed at increasing consumer confidence and helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to be taken in addition to EU legislation, including legislation in course of adoption. Students and researchers were not forgotten. eEurope also provided for multimedia networks, which would transmit information, sound and pictures between every university, research and vocational training center, including those set up to help people retrain for new jobs. The fifth of the 10 priority areas of action centered on smart cards which would be used throughout the EU. These computerized bits of plastic could be used to make calls from telephone boxes, access health services, watch programmes on pay television and surf the Internet from public places. Some cards would serve as electronic purses. The sixth of the eEurope areas of activity would be financing high-tech SMEs. The aim was better coordination of existing European financing mechanisms, and the introduction of complementary ones - in order to prevent European ideas and innovations crossing the Atlantic, to be exploited by American firms, as often happened. eEurope also sought to ensure that disabled people benefited from the information society like everyone else. Manufacturers would have to keep the disabled in mind when designing their products. Designers and engineers could therefore receive special training to this end. Information technology would have an important role to play, at the European level, in health matters in general. It could monitor contagious diseases and facilitate communication between hospitals, laboratories, chemists, doctors and rest-homes. This was the eight area of activity, which also covered European on-line medical libraries which could be consulted from a PC. What is more, by the end of 2003 all Europeans should have a smart card to access information on their health. Information technology also has a part to play in improving transport and reducing the number of accidents. The messages flashed electronically to motorists had reduced by 85% the number of accidents due to fog on motorways. Motorists and passengers needing help or access to emergency services would be able to obtain them by dialing 112. But eEurope would also work to improve electronic safety devices installed in new cars, and to develop information systems for itineraries and traffic conditions. The last of the 10 areas of activity dealt with Internet use by government departments to keep people informed. The authorities would be encouraged to use the Internet to provide information on legal, cultural and environmental matters - and to consult their constituents. eEurope even envisaged on-line income tax forms.