Ministers will meet in Luxembourg on Thursday 6 June under the mandate of the Irish Presidency. Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda, will represent the European Commission and will participate in a policy debate on a telecoms Single Market and the role of ICT in the implementation of the Digital Agenda. She will also take part in the debate on web accessibility, cybersecurity and electronic identification and trust services for transactions in the internal market (eIDAS).
Digital Agenda – Policy debate
Vice-President Kroes will ask for views from Ministers on her proposals to create a genuine single market for telecoms. She will focus on the need for a balanced package that addresses the goal of lifting investment in networks and delivering more choices and protection for consumers regarding internet and other telecoms services.
Ministers will also discuss progress of implementation of the Digital Agenda, as shown in its Mid-term review at the end of last year.
The proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites was first presented to Council in December 2012. The goal is to have EU public sector websites accessible to all by 2015. The proposed Directive will not add any cost to those countries already committed to making their websites public. Vice-President Kroes will urge for adoption of the Directive early next year.
The new EU cybersecurity strategy presents EU’s vision on how best to prevent and respond to cyber disruptions and attacks. The proposed Directive on Network and Information Security (NIS) is a key component of the overall strategy. Vice-President Kroes will stress that costs related to implementing this Directive are not excessive, considering what is at stake, and are likely to be outweighed by the overall economic and social benefits. She will also emphasise that the Commission considers the regulation is needed to establish a minimum level of national capabilities and a framework for cooperation.
In June 2012, the Commission proposed new rules to enable cross-border and secure electronic transactions in Europe, to strengthen the Single Market by boosting trust, confidence and convenience in electronic transactions. Vice-President Kroes will stress the need for further progress on adopting the draft eID Regulation, which is an integral part of both the Digital Agenda and the Single Market Act I.
Digital Infrastructure services and broadband cost reduction
In October 2011, the Commission proposed to spend almost €9.2 billion from 2014 to 2020 on high-speed broadband networks and the services that run on them. In view of the extensive budgetary cuts decided in the February European Council, the Commission submitted a proposal to cut the cost of civil engineering projects associated with rolling out broadband. Vice-President Kroes will remind Ministers that these measures could help citizens and businesses in Europe enjoy fast broadband, cut the hassle of repeated road works and save between 40 and 60 billion euros. She will therefore stress the need for urgent adoption.
Public sector information
In April 2013 EU’s Council ‘Coreper’ committee (Member States’ Permanenent Representatives) endorsed the Commission’s effort to open up public sector data for re-use across Europe. Vice-President Kroes will invite Member States to rapidly transpose the revised Directive, once it is officially adopted by the European Parliament.
In April, a proposal on a regulation for strengthening ENISA, the EU’s cyber-security agency, was adopted by the European Parliament. Ms Kroes will welcome this positive outcome. Here to read more.