Thursday, 24 December 2009

Swedish presidency and EU Commission: preparing Digital Agenda

In an interview, Åsa Torstensson, the Swedish minister for communications, pointed out the potential for democratic participation through the Internet: IT is a democratic tool (17 December 2009).



Torstensson was referring to the Visby Agenda conference on the theme “Creating impact for an eUnion 2015” held on 9-10 November: A starting point for breaking down walls of ICT (10 November 2009) and Visby Agenda: creating impact for an eUnion 2015 (9 November 2009), as well as the report A Green Knowledge Society – An ICT agenda to 2015 for Europe’s future knowledge society (September 2009).



Commission



Ahead of the TTE Council meeting, the European Commission’s issued a press release: A new digital strategy for Europe on the agenda of the Telecoms Council, 18 December 2009 (Brussels, 17 December 2009 MEMO/09/560). The clear presentation of the background is worth repeating here:


The Telecoms Ministers of the 27 EU Member States will meet at the Telecoms Council in Brussels on 18 December 2009 to agree on priorities for a new European digital strategy in 2020. This strategy should help EU countries to recover from the financial and economic crisis, while speeding up the move towards a smart and green economy. The EU 2020 strategy will build on the successes of the Lisbon strategy since its relaunch in 2005 and address some of its shortcomings. The European Digital Agenda is one of the key elements announced by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, in his political guidelines for the new Commission ( IP/09/1272 ) and in the EU's future EU2020 strategy (IP/09/1807 ; see also SPEECH/ 09/336 ). At this Telecoms Council, the European Commission will be represented by Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media.
Main items on the agenda:

• Post-i2010 strategy: adoption of Council conclusions following a policy debate

• A collaborative European approach on network and information security: adoption of a Council Resolution

• Digital dividend: adoption of Council conclusions


European Digital Agenda (Post-i2010 strategy)


Background


On 4 August 2009, the Commission adopted the Digital Competitiveness Report, which summarised the achievements of the i2010 strategy between 2005 and 2009 and launched a public consultation on possible priorities for a future strategy ( IP/09/1221 ). At the conference "Visby Agenda: creating impact for an eUnion 2015" organised on 9-10 November 2009 by the Swedish Presidency, EU Member States and the European Commission sought a common understanding of possible priorities for the forthcoming ICT agenda of the EU ( SPEECH/09/519 ). On 24 November 2009, President Barroso launched a consultation on the future "EU2020 strategy", in which the Digital Agenda was announced as one of the key initiatives to deliver on the EU's future strategic objectives ( IP/09/1807 ).


At this Council


EU Telecoms ministers will discuss the possible priorities for the EU's new Digital Agenda and will adopt Council conclusions. In particular, Ministers will be asked to express their views on the EU's new strategy to ensure sustainable growth and jobs' creation. They will also discuss the use of the internet in policy making processes to make these more open, efficient and user-friendly for European citizens.
A collaborative European approach on network and information security


Background


As part of European efforts towards increased network and information security, the Council and the European Parliament adopted a Regulation on 24 September 2008 to extend the mandate of the European Network and Information Security Agency ( ENISA ) for three years until 2012. This was followed by the Commission's adoption of a Communication on 30 March 2009 on the protection of critical information infrastructures in the EU ( IP/09/494 ).

For the European Commission, the disruption or destruction of communication services and networks poses challenges at EU level because they are vital for the functioning of society and therefore need a high level of security and resilience. All stakeholders, from Member States to the private sector, have a role to play and should cooperate to enhance Europe's capability to cope with future security threats and challenges.


At this Council


The adoption of a Council Resolution on a collaborative European approach on network and information security brings the institutional debate on future network and information security policy to a conclusion. This Resolution provides the Commission with political guidelines for the forthcoming major initiative to boost network and information security in Europe.


Digital Dividend


Background


On 28 October 2009, the Commission adopted a Communication "Transforming the digital dividend into social benefits and economic growth in Europe", calling on Member States to complete the switch-off of analogue TV by 1 January 2012 and outlining a common approach to the digital dividend in Europe that will become available as a result of the transition to digital TV ( IP/09/1595 ).


At this Council


Following an initiative of the Swedish Presidency of the European Union, the Council is expected to adopt conclusions on the Commission's proposal for the digital dividend, underlining the importance of a timely use of the digital dividend to contribute to economic recovery, strengthen competition, and stimulate innovation in both broadcasting and wireless services.


Other items on the agenda:

• Internet Governance: information from the Presidency on results achieved in the second half of 2009 (see also IP/09/1717 )
• Working programme of the incoming Presidency: the Spanish Presidency will present its priorities for the first half of 2010



TTE Council background note


The Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE) met on 17 and 18 December 2009, with the telecommunications session on the second day. Ahead of the meeting, the Press Office of the Council issued a background note with useful links to relevant documents. The telecommunications issues are found on the pages 11 to 13.

The background note can be read as an alternative to the Commission’s press release, or as a complement.




Ralf Grahn



P.S. Find the growing EU blogosphere Margot Wallström wrote about, conveniently aggregated by multilingual Bloggingportal.eu.