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Brussels, 6 June 2005

Commission outlines EU negotiation principles for the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis

Preparations for the second World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis (16-18 November 2005) have entered a crucial phase. This summit should reach an international consensus on two key unresolved issues from the first phase: Internet governance and financial mechanisms for bridging the digital divide between developed and developing countries. The European Commission has now adopted a communication outlining the EU’s priorities for the Tunis meeting. To promote an Information Society for all, respectful of human rights and of freedom of expression and cultural and linguistic diversity, the EU wishes to preserve and strengthen the sound foundations laid during the first summit in Geneva.

Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding stated: “The Internet is arguably the most powerful tool we possess for safeguarding freedom of expression and other human rights. This makes international co-operation in managing Internet resources, and arrangements for funding this co-operation, a vital concern for policy makers and Internet users worldwide.” The first phase of WSIS has created global momentum for active policies to develop the Information Society, to be reinforced and complemented during the Tunis Summit in November. The new Commission communication, to be put to EU Telecommunications Ministers on 27 June, sets out an EU line for remaining negotiations in the run-up to the Tunis meeting in November.

EU principles for second WSIS phase

  • To achieve results in the areas discussed in the WSIS first phase, it is important not to re-open the debate on questions that have been settled, but to focus on implementing agreed principles. The EU would like to build on progress made in emerging economies by backing wider access to the Internet with comprehensive strategies for developing the Information Society, including the development of creative content and applications.
  • With respect to financial mechanisms to bridge the digital divide in developing countries, the EU welcomes the voluntary Digital Solidarity Fund created in Geneva in March 2005. However, the EU believes that a more holistic approach is required to mobilise human, financial and technological resources for a better integration of ICTs into development policies.
  • As regards Internet governance, the question of internationalising the management of the Internet’s core resources, namely, the domain name system, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and the root server system, is currently being discussed. The EU believes that a new cooperation model is needed to give effect to WSIS wording on the crucial role of stakeholders within Internet governance, including governments, the private sector, civil society and international organisations.
  • To ensure the proper implementation of the Geneva Plan of Action and the political follow-up of the WSIS, the EU should insist that this mechanism be simple and efficient, making full use of existing UN organisations and government agencies, and ensuring full participation of the civil society and the private sector.

Further information:

WSIS is a formal UN Summit at the level of heads of State and Government. The EU is represented at the WSIS by the EU Presidency and the European Commission, with Members of the European Parliament included in the EU delegation. The process is divided into two phases (Geneva, 10-12 Dec. 2003; Tunis, 16-18 Nov. 2005):

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