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European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

Neelie KROES

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda

The final case for Telecom Single Market

Opening and closing speeches to the European Parliament Plenary Debate

Brussels, 2 April 2014

To add your comment to this speech, see the social version of the speech here


The digital single market is an opportunity for Europe. Removing borders and barriers. Boosting our economy. Showing every European what Europe can do for them.

Today we have three very good examples. I thank Pilar del Castillo, Marita Ulvskog, Edit Herczog, other rapporteurs, shadows, and all those involved for their hard work.

First, on eID. Protecting citizens form insecurity, impersonation, hacking online. Services that are convenient and competitive, trustworthy and transparent. Benefits that don't stop at borders.

Second: cutting the cost of network rollout. I look forward to the vote in a couple of weeks. Many Europeans will join me in thanking you for that – they will get better broadband and fewer roadworks. Just by cutting duplication.

But if there's one thing I've realised - it's that the digital world is an ecosystem. It's no good having one bit without the other

It's no good having secure eID across borders, without secure networks across borders.

No good having a fancy new phone if roaming charges make you switch it off.

No good having fast fixed broadband without the spectrum for wireless networks. Or if your operator blocks websites.

We can't accept that.

That is why, 10 months ago, I stood before many of you and promised new telecoms proposals. Looking at the whole ecosystem. Making a difference to the lives of every person you represent.

Digital resources are crucial resources for the 21st century. Our citizens depend on them and expect them. Let's not wait until they demonstrate in the streets.

Once we founded a community on coal and steel – now it needs to be founded on connectivity and spectrum. Otherwise we are going to fall behind.

It's time to liberate the billion devices in Europe.

That is why we need the rules for a connected continent.

In 6 short months we have made tremendous progress on this file. That shows the importance. I thank you all. You have suggested a number of changes: but it remains in line with our objective.

The market is not functioning. People are short-changed when they sign a contract, scared when they roam. We don't have the rules or resources to face the future. Today with your vote you can change all that.

Let me address the issue of openness and innovation online; of net neutrality. Freedom underpins a rich, vibrant online world.

I know many of you have been bombarded on this issue.

From lobbyists who probably said this was about saving the internet versus destroying it. Freedom versus tyranny. Black versus white.

I know you are too wise to take those exaggerations at face value.

We are not here just to come out with nice slogans. We could kill the internet with words - I want to save it with actions. And I imagine you do too.

So let's take up our responsibilities and do the hard work.

You know I stand for freedom, openness, innovation. We all do.

It's easy to say, harder to achieve.

So what does it actually mean?

Innovation means no more blocking or throttling services on the open internet - I'm glad we all agree on that.

And I agree we need safeguards for specialised services. They can never be an alternative to the internet, never slow down the Internet for everyone else, never be forced on users against their will. That much is clear. They are not and will never be about making people suddenly "pay for YouTube".

But equally - we must not block those new specialised services. That would be the opposite of openness. Blocking strangles innovation.

And despite what you may have been told in the last few days, that is what some of the Plenary amendments will do. Block specialised services.

I realise the pressure and the lobbying you face to do so.

But we must consider the consequences.

We can't say to European businesses, they can't have the networks they need for high definition video conferencing.

You don't want to tell citizens that you wouldn't let them enjoy quality IPTV.

Can we say to hospitals and healthcare workers they can't try out new telehealth procedures?

All those things depend on enhanced quality of service.

Tomorrow's vote will be a good day for Europe, and a significant step forward for our connected continent. Together, let's make sure the Internet remains a platform for incredible innovation.


Thanks for such a passionate discussion.

This is for every citizen in love with their mobile. It is a very important moment.

For every government and every business that can boost efficiency and effectiveness, productivity and performance with digital.

And for every dynamic telco that wants to cross the continent and face the future. It's not talking about yesterday, it's talking about tomorrow. A strong sector investing and innovating for a strong economy.

For all these reasons, your positive vote tomorrow is important.

Ending roaming.  Ending blocking. A better broadband deal. Convenience. Trust. Openness. Innovation. More European thinking for the resources that matter to our future.

Safeguarding the open internet for everyone.  On the vast majority of this package there is agreement among you.

Many have spoken on the issue of net neutrality. I am very pleased that everyone is in favour of an open internet. We are on the same page.

I repeat my call from before. Forbidding new services is not the way to promote innovation. And a poor way to safeguard an open, connected continent.

Our proposal will not create a two-speed internet. It will create an innovative, fast-forward internet. This is completely different. And we must base our discussion on reality. We will ensure access to an open internet with quality guaranteed. Specialised services will not deteriorate the public space that is the internet.

I agree with Marietje Schaake that we should not block specialised services. But that is what would happen if you voted through the amendment on the definition of net neutrality.

Our proposal and the Committee's amendments represent a balanced approach that would safeguard innovation without discrimination. But if you decide to severely restrict specialised services, effectively blocking them, then you must be aware of the consequences. Of the new opportunities European citizens will miss out on.

On voluntary measures to stop serious crimes, Mrs Ford raised the issue of blocking sites with child pornography. This is an issue close to my heart. So if there are concerns about opening up to unjustified action against legitimate sites, which by the way I do not see as a problem, then the solution is to retain Article 23.3 on the lawfulness of information. For those horrible things like child pornography which are illegal in national laws, there should be no obstacles to join efforts to identify and block such sites. So we are on the same page. Deleting article 23, paragraph 3, should not go ahead.

I don't agree with the honourable member who said we should have a minimum time to work on legislation. If we can work faster, it is better for the citizens. This is a great example of rapporteurs working together and achieving a lot in a short time.

This isn't the end of course. We have also recently set out plans on globalising Internet governance - safeguarding the open, unified internet internationally. I am happy to come and present those to you.

Tomorrow you can safeguard an online world for our citizens: borderless, open, connected.

Thank you and I am looking forward to the vote.

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