Washington, DC - Today, the United States and the European Union held the thirteenth U.S.–EU Information Society Dialogue in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss issues related to information and communication technology (ICT) and the digital economy.
In this dialogue, participants held open and vibrant discussions on topics including the EU Digital Single Market; Support for Innovation, Web-Entrepreneurship, and Digital Skills; Open Internet; the Data-Driven Economy; and Internet Governance. The dialogue was complemented by opportunities for engagement with the private sector, including the Digital Economy Workshop hosted by the Trans-Atlantic Business Council and a reception hosted by the Computers and Communications Industry Association.
(1) The EU Digital Single Market
The EU delegation shared the current thinking on the digital single market (DSM) in the EU. The DSM Strategy will be built on three pillars: 1) better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe; 2) creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish; and 3) maximizing the growth potential of the European digital economy. Whereas the United States is a digital single market in itself, the European Union has not reached its potential in today's digital era.
Participants discussed the potential global importance of the DSM. The sides agreed that the DSM would be an historic opportunity for European industry and consumers as well as U.S. businesses. They agreed that an open exchange with stakeholders is critical to building consensus and could address the concerns that U.S. industry has expressed. The participants agreed to structured channels to continue exchanging views on the digital economy and the DSM proposal in the run-up to its presentation in May 2015 and beyond.
(2) Support for Innovation, Web-Entrepreneurship, and Digital Skills
The EU delegation presented its initiative, Startup Europe, and how it could be promoted in the United States. The participants had an exchange of views on digital skills in Europe and the United States in order to see how both sides can learn from previous experience. The U.S. participants discussed broadband initiatives that support online innovation, and highlighted programs throughout the U.S. Government that support entrepreneurship. Participants discussed cooperation mechanisms for supporting startups and innovation.
(3) Open Internet
The U.S. delegation shared information about the recently adopted Open Internet Order by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), discussed key legal and policy challenges surrounding Open Internet protections and how to ensure that the Internet remains open around the world. The EU discussed the recently introduced legislation on the telecom single market that includes principles very similar to those that the FCC adopted. The participants agreed that the underlying approach and intent in safeguarding the Open Internet is the same in both cases, and agreed to enhance information sharing on open Internet related and other communications policy issues of mutual interest.
(4) The Data-Driven Economy
The EU delegation shared information on its Big Data strategy, and the U.S. delegation explained the follow-up to the U.S. Big Data and Privacy Review issued by the White House in May 2014. The participants recognized the importance of Big Data, including cooperation on research data, as a key enabler of innovative services and predictive analytics that reap great rewards in research, education, health, and development, among other opportunities, while noting the need to also protect privacy and other values. Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing are perceived by both the European Union and the United States as engines for economic growth and societal transformation. The delegations agreed to explore opportunities for enhanced collaboration and information sharing on topics including standards, demonstrators, engagement of new actors, and entrepreneurship.
The issue of cross border data flows was raised. The participants agreed that data flows are of fundamental importance to the modern global economy, and that an appropriate balance must be struck between ICT’s ability to spur economic growth, innovation, and cost savings with concerns about privacy and security. Both the United States and the European Union are committed to a robust trans-Atlantic digital marketplace that sparks innovation, fuels economic growth, and allows for the freedom of expression and the free flow of information across borders. Both delegations also stressed how new ICTs are tools that can create equal opportunities for men and women by reducing poverty, promoting and protecting fundamental rights, and empowering individuals and groups by connecting them to unlimited opportunity.
The participants also agreed to work together along with other European members on common objectives and an approach to the 2016 OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy Ministerial Meeting on Maximizing the Benefits of the Internet Economy, where Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda will serve as a vice-chairman.
(5) Internet Governance
Participants underscored the importance of an inclusive, open, and multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance. They affirmed their support for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as a valuable global, multi-stakeholder platform for discourse on key themes and developments on Internet issues, and called for extending the mandate for the IGF going forward. The multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance is essential to preserving the free and open Internet, and further developing the global economy.
The EU delegation expressed its support for the U.S. Government’s announcement to transition stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the global multi-stakeholder community as the final phase of the privatization of the Domain Name System (DNS), as outlined by the U.S. Government in 1997.
(6) World Summit on the Information Society
The U.S. and EU participants look forward to the UN General Assembly review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in December this year and welcome stakeholder input and participation. As the UN looks toward its post-2015 development agenda, it is timely for a review of WSIS and its goal of building a people-centered, inclusive, and development-oriented information society. The participants agreed to explore opportunities for future collaboration and joint outreach by the United States and the European Union, including the EU member states. Participants further agreed that the UN General Assembly review should reaffirm the goals for the use of ICT for development established in the original WSIS outcome documents and reiterate its support for the multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance.
(7) Mutual Cooperation on International Telecommunications Matters
Participants confirmed that they will work cooperatively on important agendas such as global spectrum management, telecommunications standardization, and related development efforts. Participants highlighted the importance of the November 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference for allocating new spectrum for mobile broadband and innovative technologies such as unmanned aircraft systems and space science missions.
The U.S. delegation was led by Department of State Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda, and included FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, U.S. Mission to the European Union Ambassador Anthony Gardner, Department of Commerce Deputy General Counsel Justin Antonipillai, and International Trade Administration Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services Ted Dean, and representatives from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues. The EU delegation was led by Deputy Director-General Roberto Viola, DG CONNECT of the European Commission, with the participation of Directors Gerard de Graaf, Anthony Whelan, and Mario Campolargo, and heads of unit and deputy heads of unit representing DG CONNECT, with observers from other European Commission services and the European External Action Service.