21 July, 2014

From Sao Paulo to Istanbul: towards better Internet Governance

ETNO's Chairman speech at the event "From Sao Paulo to Istanbul: towards better Internet Governance", Roma, Camera dei Deputati, 21 July 2014.

Check against delivery.


Dear representatives of the Italian Parliament and Government, distinguished speakers, dear guests,

I am delighted to be with you all today for what I hope will be a very interesting debate, on a very important topic – Internet governance.

Furthermore, I am particularly happy to be welcoming foreign guests to my home country and to be having this event in Rome, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But, above all, let me thank Speaker Laura Boldrini and MP Boccadutri for hosting us all in the Italian Parliament.

This conversation happens at a pivotal moment in the lifecycle of the European Institutions. The Italian Presidency is stepping up their efforts to advance the work on open files, but they are also having a key role in shaping the debate on the policy directions of the next Commission.

In this context, ETNO has been consistently supportive of all those who are committed to creating more growth, more jobs and to streamline policies towards a stimulus for more private investments in Europe. There is no growth without investments and our companies, who represent over 60% of the total sector investments and 77% of the sector employment in the EU, are ready to do more.

We are very glad to see that President-Elect Juncker has put the Digital Single Market as number 2 priority for the next Term, after growth and jobs creation and before energy policies. This gives us even more hope that there is political momentum to be ambitious and to get Europe back in the leading seat also in the digital value chain.


For this to happen, the debate on Internet Governance is crucial. But why do European telecom operators think so?

It is crucial because the Internet has become too important to citizens and society at large to be dominated by a selected elite of players.

It is crucial because it is a debate about the values behind how the internet is managed. And, as European democracies, we have the legitimate ambition to drive it.

It is crucial because it’s about assets that help determine the competitiveness of our companies on the global stage.

And this debate is also crucial for European telecom operators, because we are Europe’s digital spine and a better, stronger and safer internet for all also depends on our ability to invest in it. For this reason we are advocating, and we always will, for rules that are future-proof and innovation friendly. Think of net neutrality. While we would support rules against blocking and throttling, we could never share the view of those who want to intrusively regulate how networks should be run, or pick winners and losers in the value chain.

This means that the global debate on the internet is important. The EU has stepped up in such debate and overall awareness of the importance of this topic has grown steadily, largely thanks to events such as the NetMundial international conference, which was held last April in San Paolo under the auspices of the Brazilian Government, or to the NTIA’s announcement earlier this year of its intention to transition the IANA functions. 

The European Commission has also been active and visible and ETNO publicly welcomed the Commission’s Communication on Internet Governance which was issued in February.

This set forth a clear strategic course for European Internet governance. It is not acceptable to be just followers in this field or to be marginalized in this important debate. The European Union can play an active role in helping bridge opposing positions.

In view of this, we are particularly pleased that the Italian Presidency has placed Internet governance on its Presidency agenda and ETNO looks forward to supporting the Presidency in its efforts to bring about a more unified Europe on this topic.


But, more in specific, how do telecom operators see internet governance? ETNO fully supports an open, multi-stakeholder model for Internet governance, but one that evolves and becomes much more inclusive.

The multi-stakeholder method as it is now is not enough and it doesn’t match those requirements of openness and inclusiveness that many stakeholders’ are demanding. It must be shaped adequately in order to gather the opinions of all concerned stakeholders, and be flexible enough to allow the involvement of new categories of stakeholders. In this context, there is also a need to improve inclusiveness vis-à-vis developing country stakeholders.

ETNO believes that the roles and responsibilities of each participating Internet governance organisation and process should be made clear. No one governance body should be seen as competing with another and all parts can be equal in contributing to the global Internet governance debate.

When thinking at the role of Governments, for example, the debate often heats up. ETNO believes that there is a role for governments in Internet Governance, particularly on issues that have a high public policy impact: think of privacy and cybersecurity, for example. On other issues, their role might not be so crucial or involved.

But, either way, we believe it should be an absolute priority, also for Foreign affairs ministries across Europe, to have the internet and its governance among their top policy priorities. Think of the US state department, internet is at the core of their foreign policy engagement.

ETNO also fully supports the call for the internationalization of ICANN and we are encouraged by the initial steps that ICANN has made in this regard. When looking at the IANA functions transition, we look forward to a solution that addresses all stakeholder needs, while ensuring the continued stability and security of the Internet.

ETNO has for many years participated in the Internet Governance Forum. The next appointment will be in Istanbul, in September. We strongly believe that the continuation of the IGF as a forum for inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogue is an absolute necessity.

The IGF’s mandate is not intended to produce negotiated policy positions or principles on Internet issues, but rather to discuss public policy matters on key elements of Internet governance to foster the sustainability, security, and development of the Internet. 

The IGF is criticised by some as a ‘talking shop’, but in fact many relevant Internet public policy issues have been debated at IGF meetings long before they appeared in national or international political debates.

There is true value in having a forum that shapes policy rather than makes policy, and in having an open forum designed for an exchange of ideas.

ETNO will be present at IGF Istanbul and as such we very much look forward to our two panel discussions today, which we hope will facilitate a good exchange of views on topics that remain to be addressed following NetMundial and how we take those forward in view of the IGF.

Thank you all once again for joining us this morning and without further ado, I now hand over to Antonio Nicita, Commissioner at AGCOM for his views. 

© ETNO 2023
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