Andrus Ansip, the European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, spoke Tuesday at European Voice event on “Creating Europe’s digital highways”
“Consumers and companies in Europe are digitally grounded. They cannot choose or move freely. In the 21st century, this is absurd,”
Europe cannot build a Digital Single Market without strong common telecommunications rules. The strategy to limit access to content to people in a particular country or area is a shortsighted strategy, and that’s why the Commission wants to cancel geo-blocking barriers, he said. Of course there will be exceptions, particularly when geo-blocking is necessary to respect national laws (e.g. those that forbid online gambling in certain countries).
According to Ansip, the Commission’s position is clear: roaming charges must be abolished as soon as possible. Net neutrality rules are needed as well as more coordination on spectrum.
This message comes before the important debate that the Commission has just started on the Digital Single Market Strategy.
We have further selected highlights from the speech for your reference:
There is a lack of ambition, certainly less than the Commission had originally planned for. The Commission’s position is clear. We need to abolish roaming charges as soon as possible. We need strong net neutrality rules and more coordination on spectrum. On roaming, I cannot support the very limited basic allowance of Council’s current reply to people’s call for the complete abolition of roaming charges.
It is a joke. We must definitely go further. We should remember our ultimate aim: the full and swift abolition of roaming surcharges – and not only their reduction.
On Net Neutrality
On net neutrality, there are three elements we should address:
Firstly, we need to make sure that the internet is not splintered apart by different rules. This is why we need common rules for net neutrality.
Then, we need an open internet for consumers. No blocking or throttling.
And we want an internet that allows European industry to innovate and provide better services for consumers.
To return to the missing element in the Council proposal: spectrum.
This is the oxygen for the internet. It is the basis for a digitally enabled society. The more divided it is, the less efficient. We need spectrum for our digital economy to grow with the Internet of Things and the advent of 5G.
On Telecoms in General
Ladies and gentlemen, As an industrial sector, telecoms is one of the world’s fastest moving.
It is a national, regional and global market – all at the same time. It needs constant investment, innovation and imagination. Those three ‘I’s are closely linked. Together, they are the way forward: for Europe to keep up in the digital age and provide the best, most affordable, accessible online services to people and business. But first, you need to have the right conditions for a thriving competitive market. That is linked directly with consumers being able to switch service provider and to have proper choice in a vibrant open market. Competition is the driving force for innovation and investment. Investors are attracted to a market that is going somewhere. That also applies to infrastructure.
Source: European Commission