Monday

21st Jan 2019

Oettinger's digital plans focus on better infrastructure

  • More infrastructure is key to digital economy, says Oettinger (Photo: European Parliament)

In his opening address to MEPs on Monday (29 September), the EU’s incoming digital commissioner Gunther Oettinger emphasised infrastructure as key to Europe’s so-called digital economy.

“It is above all a matter of infrastructure. We need to be sure that every citizen, every company, every hairdresser, every craftsman, can use the Internet, can use the digital channels, organise their work,” he said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He described investments in ICT infrastructure as a “fundamental pre-requisite” for a successful European digital economy. Part of the plan includes creating the regulatory environment to attract private investment.

MEPs grilled the 61-year old German politician in a three-hour session where he fielded questions ranging from cyber security to big data, the cloud, data protection and net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the principle that every point on the network can connect to any other point on the network, without discrimination on the basis of origin, destination or type of data.

Asked at a press conference after the hearing to further clarify his position on the principle, Oettinger said it “is a common Internet for all users and for citizens” and that “we need net neutrality for all users”.

He said there could be an exemption in emergency cases in terms of public interest but not for businesses.

“There may be an exemption, but not for businesses,” he said.

His response did not impress some MEPs.

“We need stronger guarantees with regard to net neutrality and we need more clarity about Oettinger’s position and planned action,” said centre-left MEPs Petra Kammerevert and Dan Nica in a joint statement.

Telecommunication companies, for their part, argue that charging for different speeds and services would enable them to upgrade and invest in better infrastructure.

MEPs before the summer amended a draft law to close loopholes left in by the European Commission's original proposal to prevent Internet providers from prioritising access to specialised services.

But an internal document circulating at the Council, representing member states, threatens to roll back measures on net neutrality in favour of big business and reintroduce some of the loopholes.

MEPs back net neutrality law

MEPs have backed open access to the Internet by tightening plans by the European Commission on net neutrality.

Germany led way on EU rights protection

Germany led the way on protection of human rights this year, but Hungary, Italy, and Poland "undermined the EU's moral standing" on the world stage, a leading NGO said.

News in Brief

  1. Germany sent 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU states
  2. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  3. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report
  4. Vestager under pressure to allow Siemens-Alstom deal
  5. Teargas and clashes in Athens over Macedonia name change
  6. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  7. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  8. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us