OPP Meeting Summary: EP IMCO Committee – Presentation of the Council Presidency’s programme with Ms Kadri Simson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure and Ms Urve Palo, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology (12 July 2017)

A summary of the Committee’s exchange of views is now available.

EP IMCO Committee – 12 July 2017
Presentation of the Council Presidency’s programme with Ms Kadri Simson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure and Ms Urve Palo, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology

Kadri Simson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure

  • the Presidency would focus on making the European economy open and innovative, in order to ensure competitiveness and growth;
  • the Presidency would continue work on the services and the compliance packages;
  • the single digital gateway was a crucial part of the digitalisation of public services, and she underlined the importance of the ‘once only’ principle, which stated that the data collected by national authorities should not be asked for repeatedly. The Presidency would strive to find a large consensus on the proposal and possibly reach a general approach in the November Competitiveness Council;
  • the Presidency was fully committed to processing the negotiations on type-approval and the market surveillance of vehicles, with a view to reaching a first reading agreement;
  • the proposals on geo-blocking and consumer protection cooperation were particularly important for her. She commended the Maltese Presidency and the Parliament for reaching an agreement on consumer protection cooperation;
  • the Presidency would continue the negotiations on geo-blocking to reach an agreement as soon as possible;
  • she stated the Parliament was an essential partner for the Council Presidency and she looked forward to close cooperation.

Urve Palo, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology

  • the Presidency would focus on the uptake of digital services and the horizontal use of data, as well as developing cross-border digital trade and e-commerce;
  • the free movement of data was a key objective, as the economy was becoming increasingly data driven;
  • data localisation restrictions were an obstacle to the free movement of data, and the Presidency was looking forward to the Commission proposal on the issue in the autumn. A policy debate would be held in the Council;
  • the Presidency was planning to highlight the eGovernment angle of the digital single market. During the eGovernment Ministerial conference in October, the Presidency hoped to approve the Tallinn eGovernment Declaration, and she stated that the Parliament’s report on eGovernment was being taken into consideration in the drafting of the declaration;
  • good connectivity was one of the cornerstones of the free movement of data. The European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) was a major step toward the European gigabit society;
  • she wanted to reach a compromise on the EECC in the autumn to begin the negotiations with the Parliament;
  • Member States (MS) were committed to the development of 5G networks, and she would discuss the next steps with telecommunications Ministers in Tallinn the following week. She hoped hoped to convey a clear message for the need for a prompt 5G rollout;
  • to support e-commerce, the Presidency was also committed to continuing working on the cross-border parcel delivery proposal. She hoped that the negotiations on the file could be completed by the end of the year;
  • in light of the recent cyber attacks, the topic of cybersecurity could not be ignored. The digital single market needed to be safeguarded at the European level, and she stated that the new cybersecurity strategy should be a key strength of European industry.

Andreas Schwab (EPP, DE)

  • he thanked the Ministers for giving the Parliament such a prominent role;
  • he stated that it was always “stunning” comparing the investments in cybersecurity between the US and in the EU. Over the next 3 years, the US would be investing 19 billion EUR into cybersecurity, and the EU would be investing 600 million. He asked the Ministers to comment on the implementation of the Network and Information Society Directive;
  • he also asked whether dual food standards was an issue in Estonia, and if the Presidency could give some future dates on the services package.

Nicola Danti (S&D, IT)

  • he was sure that the Estonian Presidency would make substantial contributions in terms of eGovernment and digitalisation;
  • he raised the issues of geographical indications and ‘made in’ labelling, which had not been addressed. There needed to be an effort to move these measures forward as there currently was no majority on them;
  • he also raised the issue of the collaborative economy, platform liability and algorithms. These were core aspects of the digital infrastructure;
  • he stressed that platform liability was a topic the Council needed to focus on and he hoped that the Presidency would be able to set this in motion;
  • regarding type-approval, he stated that the Commission and the Parliament had not been as ambitious as he had wanted, and he hoped the Presidency would make progress on the issue.

Dan Dalton (ECR, UK)

  • regarding type-approval, he stated that he was glad to hear the Presidency’s commitment on reaching an agreement;
  • it had been 2 years since the Commission’s proposal and the Parliament was ready to negotiate;
  • he asked how the Presidency would reflect the different capacities of the MS on type-approval;
  • he was concerned about the digital content proposal, as there was no majority view on it in Parliament. It could have serious impact on other proposed legislation, and he wanted to know how the Council would ensure that all of the digital proposals would complement each other without overlapping as he was worried about potentially over-regulating the digital economy.

Dita Charanzova (ALDE, CZ)

  • she stated that Estonia understood the need to fight protectionism in Europe and globally, and she hoped that this would be the philosophy of the Presidency;
  • on the EECC, she stated that the Parliament would be ready soon to begin negotiations, and she asked whether the Council would reach a general approach during the Estonian Presidency;
  • on data localisation, she wanted a reassurance that the Presidency would spend “political capital” on moving the file forward;
  • regarding the transfer of motor vehicles regulation, she asked whether the Presidency was willing to make it a priority to conclude it.

Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • it was important not to create new barriers in the digital economy;
  • the IMCO Committee had a shared competence on parts of the copyright proposal that addressed the eCommerce Directive and the filtering of online content by the platforms;
  • the Committee had adopted a very strong position on protecting the fundamental rights of Internet users. A general monitoring obligation would not be in compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights;
  • she asked how the Presidency intended to come to a general approach on the copyright file;
  • she agreed that cybersecurity was an important area for the future, and wanted to know where the Presidency stood on manufacturers having positive obligations, especially in the Internet of Things, to close loopholes;
  • regarding the geo-blocking proposal, the Parliament had an agreement to include non-audiovisual copyrighted content in the scope. She stated that if the areas where geo-blocking was most prevalent were not even included in the proposal, it would be difficult to “sell it as a success to European consumers”; 
  • she asked Minister Simson on how the differences of opinion in the Council regarding geo-blocking would be overcome.

Urve Palo, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology

  • she stated that cybersecurity was a cornerstone of the digital economy. If there was no confidence that data was secure, then the digital market could not develop further. High levels of cybersecurity needed to be ensured, and it needed to be consistent across the EU;
  • certifying security should be a key aspect of the cybersecurity strategy;
  • on the comments made by Nicola Danti (S&D, IT) on the collaborative economy, she stated that it was important for economic growth, innovation and competition. She stated that in the middle-term future, online platforms should receive help in developing and the Presidency looked forward to receiving a proposal from the Commission;
  • replying to Dita Charanzova (ALDE, CZ), she stated that nobody benefited from protectionism. The Presidency would put the issue of protectionism on the agenda, because it was not only important in the EU but also in trade relations with other countries;
  • data protection was a priority and was an issue that affected all sectors;
  • replying to Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, DE), she stated that copyright had to be brought into the digital age. Some progress had been made, but controversial issues remained and she was not certain that the Estonian Presidency would be able to conclude the file. Technical meetings were still ongoing and no compromises had yet been tabled. She stated that initial progress had been made on digital content in the June Justice Council;
  • the issue of avoiding over-regulation was an important one for the Presidency. It would be on the agenda of the 29 September 2017 meeting of Ministers and heads of state in Tallinn.

Kadri Simson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure

  • on the issue of dual food standards raised by Andreas Schwab (EPP, DE), she stated that it was a complex issue and there was a possibility to hold discussions in the Council;
  • regarding the collaborative economy, she described it as a “fantastic opportunity” but there were problems regarding taxation and consumer protection;
  • she believed that the traditional and collaborative economies should be examined together to find common solutions which related to both;
  • on type-approval, she was sure that the discussions would lead to making the procedure simpler. The technical discussions had begun, and the Presidency would be able to play an active role as a mediator because Estonia did not have an automotive industry;
  • replying to Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, DE) on geo-blocking, she stated that the Presidency was seeking an agreement as quickly as possible. The Council was assessing everything put forward by the Parliament including music and e-books but because the discussions were still on-going, she did not want to comment further.

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP, SE)

  • she was excited about the priorities of the Estonian Presidency, and hoped to join forces for a free and global Internet. It should be facilitated, not over-regulated;
  • she raised the issue of the ePrivacy Regulation  proposal, and she described the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as “unbalanced”. There was a clear need to clarify the scope of the ePrivacy Regulation in relation to the GDPR;
  • she hoped that the Presidency would be able to ensure that MS “paid more than lip service to the internal market”. There needed to be a clear commitment from the MS to completing and enforcing the internal market.

Catherine Stihler (S&D, UK)

  • she was curious about how the copyright proposal would develop in the Presidency;
  • she wanted to know how the MS were moving towards the 2018 implementation of the GDPR. She was also interested on how to get the right balance in the ePrivacy proposal;
  • she also raised the issue of fire safety, and asked how the Presidency would be handling it.

Maria Grapini (S&D, RO)

  • 6 months for the Presidency was not a long time. Many issues had been raised, and she wanted to know the top priorities for the Presidency because not everything would be achieved;
  • she wanted to hear the Presidency’s views on public procurement;
  • she also stated that trade agreements did not have very clear provisions on dumping and forgeries, and an IT system for customs was still lacking. She wanted to know the Presidency’s priorities on these issues.

Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D, FI)

  • there was a strong social dimension to the digital revolution;
  • she wanted to know if the Presidency had any proposals on how citizens could be better educated on digital transformations.

Anneleen Van Bossuyt (ECR, BE)

  • she raised the issue of the aviation security screening equipment file which had been blocked because it was not well received by the MS in the Council. She wanted to know how the file could move forward.

Kadri Simson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure

  • further development of the single market was a clear priority for the Presidency;
  • she was waiting for the Commission proposal on product safety, and stated that it was not yet clear what the Council’s position would be;
  • there would be a conference on public procurement in October.

Urve Palo, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology

  • regarding ePrivacy, she stated that it was important for trust in the digital single market;
  • she wanted to see data protection at the “highest level” in the Council. Negotiations were still on-going and she was unable to comment further on the content;
  • she also wanted to ensure that people owned their own data. It was important to think about what a data-based society would look like;
  • regarding copyright, she stated that it was an important issue that the Presidency had high hopes for but needed to remain realistic about, and it might not be possible to reach a general approach by the end of the year;
  • she agreed with Maria Grapini (S&D, RO) that protectionism was an issue that needed to be addressed;
  • replying to Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D, FI), she stated that digital developments were a “one-way street” and it would be impossible to go back. It was important to ensure that everyone was included. Younger people were being prepared in schools, but older people needed more training. National governments should be responsible for digital eduction, and investments would need to be made.

Source: One Policy Place

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the European Parliament serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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