Washington, DC - The European Union and the United States (the "participants") held the fourteenth EU-U.S. Information Society Dialogue (ISD) to discuss issues related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the digital economy in Washington, DC on 28 June 2016. The ISD was co-chaired by Roberto Viola, Director-General, Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission and Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of State.
Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Catherine Novelli and EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Gunther Commissioner Gunther Oettinger provided opening remarks. Participants held productive discussions on a number of key topics including the role of digital platforms, ICT standards, connectivity, copyright, data flows, ICT-enabled research, and international cooperation.
The participants committed to continue strengthening their cooperation on international digital economy issues, including by working together to advance their shared values in multistakeholder and multilateral forums. They reaffirmed their strong support for the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance and for promoting policy environments that encourage openness, investment and innovation. The participants also reaffirmed their support for frameworks that allow for the free flow of information across borders, respecting applicable laws, including those related to the protection of privacy and personal data. The participants emphasized the importance of efforts to expand connectivity and bring people online across the world. The United States and the European Union also reaffirmed their intention to work together in the coming months to ensure successful outcomes at the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly in Yasmine Hammamet, Tunisia, from October 25 to November 3, and robust dialogue at the Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico, December 6-9.
The dialogue was complemented by opportunities for engagement with a range of stakeholders including through the Digital Economy Workshop hosted by the Trans-Atlantic Business Council, and a panel hosted by the Computer and Communications Industry Association. The ISD complements other EU-U.S. channels for engagement on digital and related matters, including the EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue (Washington, DC, December 2015), the EU-US Innovation and Investment in the Digital Economy Dialogue (Boston, MA, March 2016), and other bilateral and multilateral discussions including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations.
The EU Digital Single Market
The EU provided an update on the state of play and next steps of the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy, including the measures of April 2016 aimed at the digitization of all industries and those of May 2016 to promote the uptake of e-commerce. The participants reaffirmed their desire that digital policies in the United States and the EU, including the DSM strategy, should lead to improved opportunities for both European and U.S. businesses and consumers. Likewise, reducing market fragmentation and barriers and promoting investment in technology and digital infrastructure are common objectives that the United States and the EU intend to pursue.
The United States welcomed the extensive and ongoing opportunities for stakeholder engagement, which includes a series of public consultations and workshops, organized both in Europe and in the U.S. The participants noted that several of the objectives being addressed via the DSM strategy, including the importance of trust in order to promote Internet use; the need for policies that promote innovation and consumer choice; the importance of data flows for business, citizens, and society; the necessity to foster 21st century skills; the role of digital platforms; and the risks of market fragmentation in areas such as taxation and privacy, have been raised by stakeholders as issues deserving attention in both the EU and the United States.
The participants agreed to continue exchanging information and best practices in the context of a mutually respectful and beneficial process, and to foster openness in their respective economies as well as the transatlantic market.
The participants agreed to strengthen their efforts to support the development of international standards through industry-led, voluntary, consensus-driven, market-responsive processes, and based on principles of transparency and openness of participation to all interested stakeholders regardless of residency. The participants also acknowledged the important role of standards in enabling global interoperability.
During several engagements, including in June 2015 (bilateral meeting between Under Secretary Novelli and Commissioner Oettinger), September 2015 (EU-U.S. ICT standardization roundtable co-chaired by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Commissioner Oettinger, with participation by Under Secretary Novelli), April 2016 (Hannover Messe) and via several technical expert meetings, the participants identified priority areas to explore for further discussion in the near term that could include technologies that constitute the Internet of Things, 5G and cybersecurity in a technology-neutral fashion and taking into account the continued work of the private sector and standards development organizations. The participants also took note of the joint work in the Transatlantic Economic Council on international standards to support the interoperability of patient health records, and of U.S.-EU cooperation on training and workforce development in e-Health/Health IT sector.
The participants agreed to support an industry-organized and industry-led technical roundtable with experts from industry and standards organizations.
Participants agreed that data-driven innovation is a fundamental component of jobs and growth, improved through shared information on their respective approaches to foster such developments across all industrial sectors and segments of society, including by strengthening digital public services and the use of cloud-based technologies for scientific research. The participants agreed upon the need to avoid barriers to innovation in the form of data localization requirements.
Following a future series of political and technical exchanges, the participants agreed to work together in the coming months on a joint project, focusing on the reuse of open data by businesses for development of new products and services and on public authorities exchanging best practices in publishing open data.
The joint project will (1) enhance the usability of open EU and U.S. datasets by exchanging views, experience and requirements of data re-users; (2) exchange best practices of open data holders from both the EU and United States; and (3) demonstrate the results and lessons learned, as well as highlight next steps, via a jointly supported hackathon whose winners would be announced at the International Open Data Conference (October 2016, Madrid, ES).
Participants exchanged information on the state of play of their respective efforts to foster an open Internet, including via the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Order (upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals on June 14, 2016), the open Internet provisions in the Telecommunications Single Market Regulation, and the draft Net Neutrality guidelines issued for public consultation on June 6, 2016, by the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC). The participants recognized the importance of continuing their dialogue in this policy area, including by continuing the productive exchanges on their respective experiences with the relevant rules.
The participants recognized the growth prospects that emerging technologies can provide to improve consumer welfare and expand digital opportunities. The participants reaffirmed their commitment to allow private sector development based on market forces, while supporting their respective policy objectives, and to create supportive policy and regulatory approaches to allow the development of yet-to-be-defined technologies including 5th generation mobile. The participants encouraged active exchanges of best practices between stakeholders across the Atlantic, with a view to maximizing opportunities to facilitate these best practices. Accordingly, while respecting that EU and U.S. stakeholders might have different priorities and objectives in the short- to mid-term, the participants agreed that identifying globally harmonized spectrum for 5G wireless services is a high priority and that a policy approach based on flexibility and spectrum sharing is essential to encouraging private sector innovation and investment in this evolving eco-system.
BRAIN Initiative / Human Brain Project
The EU and the U.S. discussed the state of play of their respective strategic, long-term initiatives to foster research at the border between ICTs and neuro-science, i.e. the Human Brain Project (HBP) and Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) both launched in 2013.
Participants agreed that the two initiatives share the same vision and are complementary, and that by working together they can enable researchers to achieve major advances in understanding the brain, and in diagnosing and preventing brain disorders for the benefit of human kind. Accordingly, they decided to establish a regular dialogue between the respective funding agencies and to propose areas for research collaboration.
Future Internet Experimentation
The participants updated each other on the state of play and next steps of their respective large-scale research and development efforts on next-generation Internet technologies, including the EU FIRE (Future Internet Research and Experimentation) initiative and the U.S. GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI)) initiative.
The FIRE and GENI initiatives have been cooperating since 2013 by developing joint activities between EU and US-based researchers in the field of future Internet experimentation. Their investigations have explored areas of mutual interest, such as future Internet architectures/services/applications, federation, cloud, Internet of Things, wireless, ontologies, and other areas.
Given that that U.S. National Science Foundation recently funded a community workshop series called "Beyond the Internet" and that the EU is currently exploring the possibility of launching a flagship initiative on Next Generation Internet to use the technological opportunities arising from combining advancements of different research fields in a holistic and interdisciplinary fashion; the participants agreed to strengthen existing cooperation by:
- Identifying areas of common interest between and considering joint research collaborations on Future Internet topics, with participants from the United States and Europe, building on and expanding the ongoing collaboration on global Internet experimentation;
- Facilitating exchanges of researchers to and from both regions;
- Within the next year, jointly organizing a U.S.-EU visioning workshop focusing on "Beyond the Internet/Next Generation Internet", designed to identify and explore new avenues of research in this area.
Expanding Global Connectivity
The United States and the EU affirmed the importance of efforts to expand connectivity and bring more people online, such as the Global Connect Initiative. They also discussed opportunities for collaboration within and among the multilateral development banks to support global connectivity. The sides recognized that connectivity policies must be accompanied by regulatory frameworks that foster investment and innovation as well as additional efforts to improve digital literacy and develop local content. The parties discussed opportunities to use their respective development programs and bilateral engagements to achieve further progress in these areas.
The EU welcomed the recent report by NTIA announcing that the proposal for the IANA Stewardship Transition developed by the global multistakeholder community meets the required criteria and stressed the importance to conclude the transition without delays. The participants highlighted their desire for a successful transition as a concrete sign to promote multistakeholder governance of the Internet.
The participants also agreed to continue cooperating in relevant fora and to continue fostering opportunities for global multistakeholder discussion, including through the Internet Governance Forum, whose extended mandate by the UN General Assembly was greeted by both sides as a positive development.