OPP Meeting Summary: EP ITRE Committee – Estonian Presidency visit of Ms Urve Palo, Minister for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology (11 July 2017)

A summary of the Committee’s debate is now available.

EP ITRE Committee – 11 July 2017
Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Visit of Ms Urve Palo, Minister for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology (Telecom, Space, SMEs) 

Ms Urve Palo, Minister for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology (Telecom, Space, SMEs)

  • one of the main priorities of the Estonian Presidency was a digital Europe and completing all DSM files by the end of 2018;
  • good connectivity was one of the cornerstones of ensuring the digital world maximised its opportunities. The European Electronic Communications Code. Recast was a major step towards a gigabyte society and one of the main priorities of the Estonian Presidency. They wanted to reach a compromise in the Council in the autumn and begin negotiations with the EP. They were confident of reaching an agreement that suited all sides;
  • regarding BEREC the Presidency they wanted to find a way to find effective coordination at European level that at the same time ensured investment certainty whilst also considering national circumstances. They would reach a general approach that would then allow the next Presidency to begin trilogues;
  • the legal political framework of the data economy with clear rules would be crucial in order for Europe to stay competitive. The Commission proposal in this regard was welcome. However, the potential of the data union needed to consider such emerging issues as data access and the use of non-personal data. With that in mind the Presidency would discuss these matters (free movement of data) at the Informal Council meeting in Tallinn in July next week;
  • in the December Council meeting they would hold a policy debate on the expected Commission proposal on data localisation  and restrictions;
  • cybersecurity needed to be a key strength of European industry. They looked forward to the Commission proposal on cybersecurity certification;
  • with regard to the space flagship programme Copernicus the Presidency planned to prepare conclusions from the lessons learned from the implementation of the programme so far as part of the mid-term evaluation (2014-2016);
  • with regard to Galileo the Presidency planned to adopt Council conclusions on the Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS) regulations at the TTE Council meeting in December 2017;
  • space data needed to be exploited to create growth and jobs. European Space Week took place in Estonian from 3rd – 9th November.

Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP, ES)

  • connectivity was the backbone of the EU strategy in order to take it to the next level and would pave the way for 5G development;
  • as Rapporteur for the file on the European Electronic Communications Code. Recast she hoped they would get the political agreement. The vote would take place on 11th September and would then be ready for the trilogues. She called on the Presidency to provide the “political will.”

Carlos Zorrinho (S&D, PT)

  • he questioned how would they would take advantage of the WIFI4EU initiative.
  • he asked for ideas regarding digitising energy

Evzen Tosenovsky (ECR, CZ)

Kaja Kallas (ALDE, EE)

  • regarding over the top services she questioned whether they were over-regulating the field and wondered whether telecommunications companies required greater flexibility;
  • as regards the free flow of data and data restrictions she questioned what the Presidency view was of MS who wanted to keep this data within their country;
  • regarding encryption and back doors, which were topics that arose frequently after terrorist incidents, she questioned what the Minister’s views were on the subject. (Kaja Kallas expanded on this theme in a recent interview, here).

Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • he questioned the broader relationship between digitisation and the circular economy and how they would promote these two topics;
  • he asked the Minister if there was a sense of urgency that was required from a digital perspective and if they faced the possibility of being “left behind” in the digital “horse race“;
  • he raised concerns about different MS insisting on data localisation and asked how they should deal with this.

Other Members made the following interventions

Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE)

  • she questioned if could they stimulate other MS as regards e-government;
  • regarding cybersecurity she asked if they were planning anything in this area.

Michał Boni (EPP, PL)

  • regarding the free flow of data he questioned the readiness of MS to not only start discussions but also finish them successfully with some flexibilities built-in to the solution.

Ms Urve Palo, Minister for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology (Telecom, Space, SMEs)

  • she agreed with Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP, ES) regarding connectivity and hoped they would find a successful solution. Data needed to be free and flow quickly in large volumes;
  • regarding the very good WIFI4EU initiative they would look forward to working on thus during the autumn months and would aim to get the right levels of finance in place for the initiative;
  • the European Electronic Communications Code. Recast was a very important package and on 9th June the Council had discussed this;
  • regarding the BEREC definition the council would meet to discuss what tasks the regulator should have in the future and how these should be defined in the regulation;
  • during the December Competitive Council, Ministers would discuss the space strategy and evaluate the strategy one year on. For Copernicus to evolve they would require funding. Space data would be a growth area in the EU of which everyone would benefit;
  • regarding the questions posed by Kaja Kallas (ALDE, EE), as regards over the top services the Minister wanted to guarantee proportionality. As regards encryption they were not currently waiting for (or expecting) any proposals regarding back doors or encryption;
  • the Commission would come forward with an updated cybersecurity strategy in September 2017 (by September 2017, the Commission will review the EU Cybersecurity Strategy and the mandate of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), to align it to the new EU-wide framework on cybersecurity. They will propose additional measures on cybersecurity standards, certification and labelling to make connected objects more cyber secure);
  • regarding e-government they would hold a high-level conference in November. An important principle was asking for data only once;
  • with reference to the budget for Galileo the Presidency would do their best;
  • as regards the free flow of data they would do their best and were awaiting the Commission proposal on the framework on this topic and in December would organise a political discussion on this topic.

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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