The head of the Dutch effort to solve the Year 2000 problem has criticised UK prime minister Tony Blair and the US government for lacking leadership and effort in combating the bug.
Jan Timmer said Blair had not done enough during his chairmanship of the European Commission over the past year and that progress in the UK on Y2K had slipped lately.
"Tony Blair's effort fell short of what we would have expected in Europe. Also, his commitment to train 20,000 programmers creates the wrong impression, that Y2K is simple to solve. But that is only a part of the problem - there is still a lack of awareness and there is denial," he said.
Timmer joined more than 25 global experts speaking yesterday at a day-long Internet conference hosted by Ed Yardeni, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, to mark 500 days to go until the millennium.
Yardeni noted that, although UK and US governments proclaimed the presence of the Year 2000 issue on the agenda for the G8 group of nations meeting in May, it was in fact the twenty fifth point on a list of 25.
Timmer was also scathing about the US role in fighting the Year 2000 crisis, which he said was very parochial.
"There is a clear lack of leadership, which should be coming from the US. We are very disappointed in the US," he said.
He also added criticism of his Brussels neighbours. "The EC is doing something, but it is too little, too late."
Timmer said his particular concerns arose from the Netherlands' small size and dependence on international connections. While Dutch multinationals were leading the world on compliance and the Dutch government making Y2K a ministerial priority, other countries were less committed.
"We are very concerned about international connectivity. Even if we put our house in order, if the surrounding countries do not then we haven't achieved very much," he said.
Lawyers were also subject to Timmer's criticism - he joined other speakers in claiming that legal interests were holding back progress on Y2K (see related story).
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