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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 30 November 2012

Digital Agenda: EU defends open internet at Dubai international telecommunications conference

The 193 Member countries of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will meet in Dubai from 3rd to 14th December 2012 to review the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR) Treaty. The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) will review the Treaty for the first time since 1988. Since then the situation in many ITU countries has changed dramatically – in most cases the previously state-owned monopoly telecommunications providers have been privatised and competition introduced to national markets, not to mention the dramatic changes brought by the internet.

The success of the 1988 ITR Treaty lay in the fact that it was primarily a set of high level principles which facilitated international telecommunications rather than detailed regulations. This meant that the subsequent explosion of innovation in services and communication technologies, such as those associated with the internet, was not hampered by detailed international rules and regulations. The EU Member States agree that high level principles must continue to prevail in the future in order to ensure that future developments in information and communication technologies continue and the economic growth associated with such developments can flourish. Some non-EU countries have tabled proposals for a significant increase in the scope of the Treaty and the regulatory burden on operators, including internet service providers. The EU believes that there is no justification for such proposals and is concerned about the potentially negative impact on innovation and costs, both for operator and end-users.

The Commission's proposed position, from which the EU common position was agreed is:

(a) not to support any proposals that may affect EU common rules or alter their scope, or introduce obligations on operators which go beyond those already provided for under these rules;

(b) to support proposals that seek to ensure that the revised Treaty remains high level, strategic and technology neutral and to oppose proposals to make ITU recommendations binding;

(c) to ensure the ITR revision process does not lead to an increase in the scope of the current ITR Treaty or to an increase in the responsibilities exercised by the ITU under its current mandate.

(d) to support proposals to respect human rights in relation to international telecommunications, such as on privacy and personal data protection in relation to personal data and communications

(e) to support measures to promote greater international cooperation in ensuring the robustness of networks used for international telecommunications traffic;

(f) to support pro-competitive measures and greater transparency on prices, for international telecommunications traffic and roaming, based on commercial negotiations in a free and fair marketplace.

Useful links

EU position on ITR at WCIT

Neelie Kroes website

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