Sunday 3 January 2010

EU Council presidency trio and European Digital Agenda (continued)

Yesterday’s blog post European Digital Agenda: EU Council presidency trio Spain, Belgium and Hungary (2 January 2010) brought us about halfway through the [Draft] 18 month programme of the Council (dated 27 November 2009; document 16771/09; 89 pages).

The presidency trio programme placed the successor of the general Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs in a central position.

In my view, economic reform is one of the crucial areas of action for the European Union, but the EU and especially the member states have a built a wide credibility gap to bridge, after a Lisbon strategy decade of lofty aims and disappointing results.

The EU member states have the burden of proof: Show us, how the EU 2020 strategy is going to be better?


Until we reached the sub-heading Telecommunication, on page 43, we had found only the general EU 2020 reform framework and a number of separate, but neighbouring issues to the post-i2010 information society strategy, the European Digital Agenda being prepared: Innovation and intellectual property (page 30), Research & Development & Innovation (page 31), as well as Customs (including negotiations on the pluri-lateral ACTA agreement) (page 33).

[Obiter dictum 1: We have to leave for later the question about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and if it should be treated from another angle than Customs control, but civil society actors and the European Parliament should be on the lookout for the coming Commission report and Council conclusions (page 34).]

[Obiter dictum 2: Someone may wonder why I burden my texts with double references, such as a direct link AND references to for instance exact names, dates or document numbers. Well, one answer presented itself, when I tried to return to the Council’s 18 month programme after a few searches elsewhere. The Spanish presidency site was down, but after a few failed attempts it was easy for me to switch to the Consilium website, armed with the document number 16771/09. Using simple search, I was able to find the [Draft] programme through the Council web pages and continue my work.]

Broadband access

If not in the same class as the air we breathe and water to drink, universal access to broadband is of fundamental importance if we want to see an inclusive knowledge society in Europe. The first paragraph under Telecommunication is therefore a cornerstone of the European Digital Agenda being prepared (page 43):

The Presidencies will launch work on the new scope of the universal service in electronic communications and on the incorporation of the broadband in the scope of universal service on the basis of a Commission communication.

European Digital Agenda

The following paragraph mentions the post-i2010 information strategy as a priority (page 44):

The approval of the New Strategy 2010-2015 for the promotion of the Information Society (i2010) will be a main priority.

Although left unnamed, this is the European Digital Agenda we have been chasing.

Other Telecommunication aims

The rest of the Telecommunication text mentions important ingredients, which are worth quoting:

The three Presidencies will foster the deployment of next generation networks, both in infrastructure and services, on the basis of the forthcoming Commission Recommendation.

Work on network security, electronic commerce and protection of intellectual property in Internet and the fight against piracy will be promoted.

The extended mandate of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) will expire in March 2012. Taking into account the outcome of the review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications, the Presidencies will initiate discussions on the future of the ENISA.

The Presidencies will further contribute to the development of the Internet of the Future. New challenges such as the extension of the universal service, network neutrality, broadband on mobile, convergence of fixed and mobile networks and the development of the internet of things will be examined.

Special attention will be given to the development of the European Action Plan for eGovernment for 2010-2015 and the electronic rights of citizens to interact with government and with businesses.

The Presidencies will coordinate and prepare for the upcoming World Radiocommunications Conference in 2011 (WRC-11) in a way to ensure consistency with the Union's policies and principles.

As regards postal services, the Presidencies will coordinate the EU position at the UPU Strategic Conference (Nairobi, 21 to 25 September 2010).

This is about as much as we can decently cram into one post, so we continue our search in one or more blog posts on the European Digital Agenda.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Erkan Saka is a prolific blogger about politics, culture and life in Turkey, Europe and elsewhere. A must read, Erkan’s Field Diary is one of the nearly 500 great euroblogs listed on multilingual, our common “village well” for fact, opinion and gossip on European affairs.

While you’re at it, why not pop over to read Grahnlaw’s sister blogs, Grahnblawg in Swedish and Eurooppaoikeus in Finnish?

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