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Hearing on Internet Governance Arrangements

 - 06/05/2009

Internet Governance logo, High Level Group(HLIG) The European Commission called a Hearing on Internet Governance Arrangements on 6th May 2009 in Brussels prior to the High Level Group on Internet Governance scheduled for the day after. The objective of this hearing was to contribute to the discussion on the future of Internet governance, in a year when the ICANN (Internet Corporation on Assigned Names and Numbers) will undergo changes to its institutional situation with the termination of the contract with the US Department of Commerce on 30th September, and with discussions of the future of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), due to its 5-year mandate expiring in 2010, which means that discussions on reviewing it and whether to continue with it or not will also begin this year.

Roughly 100 participants attended the hearing, where the following topics were discussed: the World Summit on the Information Society process, Internet security and stability, the role of governments in Internet governance, transparency, accountability and legitimacy in Internet governance, the internationalisation of Internet governance and the evolution of Internet access in developing countries.

A significant part of the meeting was dominated by reactions to the weekly video message from the European Commissioner for the Information Society and Media, Viviane Reading, on Internet governance.

Some of those present regretted the Commissioner’s unexpected message with positions on several of the topics that were the subject of the Public Hearing on Internet Governance Arrangements, before taking into consideration the contributions received at the hearing, in addition to specific criticisms of several aspects of the content of this message, bearing in mind that the perception of this missive outside Europe is that it reflects an agreed European Union position and not the isolated opinion of the Commissioner.

The Portuguese delegation’s position was as follows:

  • The EU has not dealt with Internet governance matters in the most concerted fashion, yet as they are a matter of foreign policy competence of the Member States and the Council, it is not the Commission’s place to take leadership in these matters to such an extent that it writes directly to the US government without having previously raised the matter(s) in the appropriate European bodies pursuant to the Treaty forming the European Community.

    The EU can and should play a crucial role in the global arenas of Internet governance, in particular through striking the right balance between developed and developing countries, which requires a concerted position in terms of European international policy.

    As concerns the IGF, there has been significant progress in clarifying the EU’s positions and involving Member States in a concerted fashion, in particular from the Portuguese Presidency of the EU’s action of participating at the Rio de Janeiro IGF (in Portuguese) in November 2007, which has been continued by subsequent presidencies.
Last updated ( 16/07/2010 )