Dutch Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) wants European Commissioner Kroes (Digital Agenda) to debrief the European Parliament as soon as possible on the outcome of the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) WCIT 2012 conference that took place in Dubai over the last two weeks. "Proposals seeking a bigger and formal say for countries in internet governance fortunately did not pass. However, amongst the 192 member countries of the ITU there clearly are two opposing visions on the future of the internet: openness versus increased governmental control. Cooperation within the EU but also with our international partners is key to preserve the open internet. The era of global internet politics has definitely kicked-off", Schaake says.
Schaake has urged Kroes as well as the new Irish EU Presidency to ensure full transparency of the proceedings in Dubai. Late Thursday evening several EU Member States announced they would not sign the new International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). The Member States oppose an attached (non-binding) Resolution to the new ITRs which brings the internet in the scope of the ITU. This would mark a departure of the current 'multi-stakeholder' model which facilitates consensus building dialogues between countries, companies and interest groups.
Schaake: "It looks like all EU Member States are taking the same position, as the European Parliament also urged them to do. An international consensus on the update and scope of the ITRs is now lacking. Which consequences does this stalemate have for European internet uses and businesses, both in the EU as beyond? There's a clear task here for Commissioner Kroes. Moreover, Digital Freedoms are a priority in the EU's foreign policy, which will become even more important now."
Schaake also urges the European Commission to assess if updated parts of the (binding) ITRs (e.g. on spam and network security) are compatible with countries' binding obligations in the World Trade Organization (WTO), particularly under GATS (the General Agreement on Trade in Services). Schaake: "Should countries get a bigger say in internet governance, this will likely open the door for increased digital protectionism. Market access, investments and interconnection are also covered by trade rules. Also, most countries have committed themselves not to restrict basic internet services." Violations of WTO rules can be sanctioned by the body's dispute-settlement mechanism.
The updated ITRs are not expected to become binding before 2015, and requires ratification by each country, as well as conversion into national law