Brussels, 18 Jul 2005
Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding has used a speech to the European Institute in Washington to call for closer cooperation between the EU and US to achieve an open and efficient approach to Internet governance.
Speaking on 13 July, Ms Reding presented the Commission's agenda in the field of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and welcomed the close economic integration achieved to date between the two transatlantic partners. The Commissioner said that much attention is often given to EU-US trade disputes, but that trade actually constitutes a relatively small part of total economic activity between the two blocs.
'[I]nvestment in each other's economies is what really drives innovation, jobs, markets, and business activity,' she stressed, before adding, 'However, despite our impressive bilateral economic ties, several obstacles continue to hinder our bilateral trade and investment, mainly in the regulatory area.'
In this context, the Commissioner expressed particular concern about the lack of effectiveness thus far of measures to fight spam e-mail: 'Spam destroys the confidence of the consumers in the Internet. It is in that respect a real danger and I believe therefore that all governments must act more actively against companies that facilitate the dissemination of spam throughout the world.' Ms Reding added that the second stage of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis this November would be a good opportunity to discuss the issue.
Indeed, Commissioner Reding highlighted the fact that there is no appropriate existing global fora on Internet governance where all countries, both developed and developing, can come together to discuss common challenges. 'Where we have effective bodies, such as the OECD, these are not inclusive enough to allow for the participation of developing countries. It is crucial that all parts of the world become more active in these fields of security and stability and better enforce existing legislation.'
Europe is keen that any future global approach to Internet governance is led by the principles of openness and efficiency rather than internal policy, said Ms Reding, and she welcomed the fact that the US government has reaffirmed its willingness to pursue an 'ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders' on the issue.
Despite arguing in favour of public involvement to ensure that the Internet remains reliable and dependable, Ms Reding recognised and applauded the private sector for having provided almost all of the investment and initiative behind the creation of the Internet in the first place. She concluded by saying: 'Of course, it is clear in my view that reflection on an improved, more effective and inclusive model should not hamper the day-to-day operation of the Internet, and not undermine the good work carried out by organisations such as ICANN. A key objective must be to help support private sector initiative and investment and to promote innovation.' To read the full text of Commissioner Reding's speech, please: click here