Member of the European Commission responsible for the Information Society and
Conference of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
Dear Paul Twomey,
Dear members of the Internet community and of the Internet economy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First allow me to welcome you all to Luxembourg. As a Luxemburger myself, it gives me great pleasure to see that ICANN has decided to hold its meeting this summer in my own country. I hope very much that you have the opportunity to visit the city and the country while you are here and to enjoy the rich culture that it has to offer.
Luxembourg is, in many ways, a crossroads of Europe. Here you will hear many languages and, as home to many of the European institutions, you will find people from all over Europe. It is fitting therefore, in my opinion, that ICANN has its meeting here given its own mandate to bring together the various globally-diverse communities that manage and operate the Internet’s Domain Name System. I understand that this community encompasses participants from all four corners of the world, and from many different backgrounds – such as the commercial sector, civil society and governments.
This multi-stakeholder approach is an increasing and welcome feature of modern governance. As you will all know, the World Summit on the Information Society, which will take place later this year, has adopted the same approach.
You will also be aware that Internet governance is one of the main topics on the agenda of the World Summit of the Information Society – a reflection of the importance that the Internet has in today’s world and of the need for common understandings between the main stakeholders.
Only a few weeks ago, here in Luxembourg, the EU Council of Ministers agreed on a common European approach to key elements of the Internet governance debate. Some of these relate directly to the various stakeholders assembled in Luxembourg now under the ICANN banner.
In particular, Europe agreed on the need for ensuring better the active participation of all parts of the world in decisions on crucial issues such as the domain name system, IP addresses, further DNS issues or security problems (spam, spy ware, etc.). It is indeed fully legitimate that governments want to ensure that appropriate answers be given to issues such as cyber crime, SPAM, intellectual property rights and development objectives. Furthermore, it is in everybody’s interest that all countries in the world feel committed to common basic principles on the Internet.
There is, in my view, room for better exploiting the potential of public–private partnership in the Internet governance. I believe that we should build on existing governance structures. However, there appear to be areas where there are no appropriate international fora where governments and other stakeholders can come together to solve common challenges.
Of course, it is clear that reflection on an improved, more effective and inclusive model should not hamper the day-to-day operation of the Internet, and not undermine the good work carried out by organisations such as ICANN. The continued stability and security of the Internet is essential. This critical resource must remain reliable and dependable. And it is of crucial interest for Europe - and I believe for the rest of the world - that the future approach to Internet governance is led by the principles of efficiency and openness, and not by considerations of internal policy.
I am convinced that a monopolistic oversight over the Internet would at the end of the day lead to less efficiency and less security. Considering the economic importance of Internet for Europe, notably its increasing weight in our trade relations with our main economic partners, I believe that it would be our interest to jointly work on realistic solutions.
Finally, I would like to remind you that the countdown to the advent of Europe’s own “.eu” internet identity has begun this spring. With the support of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority and ICANN, the “.eu” Registry is preparing for the new TLD. As from the beginning of 2006, businesses and citizens who register “.eu” internet addresses will be able to benefit from higher visibility within the EU single market and a level playing field for electronic commerce. The first phase of registration should be launched later this year. As you will certainly understand, I am very proud of the future “.eu”!
Ladies and gentlemen,
The DNS community worldwide has been in the forefront of creating a truly inclusive dialogue between participants in developed and developing countries. I congratulate you for this contribution to bridging the digital divide. The DNS and its various managers have also been key actors in providing the stability that the Internet has delivered to date. If this momentum is to be maintained, it is critical that all the key stakeholders gathered in Luxembourg continue to cooperate to strengthen the naming and addressing infrastructure that underpins so much of the modern world’s communications infrastructure.
Today’s gathering illustrates the important role ICANN plays in providing a dynamic meeting place where this cooperation can be achieved.
Good luck for your meetings this week and for your future efforts for the DNS.