The vice president for the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, Neelie Kroes, has issued a call for the formation of a single EU telecoms market before the next European election. The European Commissioner voiced her intent to oversee the reform of the EU telecoms market by Easter 2014, claiming that it would be good for Europe’s economy.
“I want you to be able to go back to your constituents and say that you were able to end mobile roaming costs,” said Kroes. “I want you to be able to say that you saved their right to access the open internet, by guaranteeing net neutrality. I want you to be able to say we took real action on cybercrime and other threats.”
She said that a single European market would result in growth stimulated by breaking down barriers and that it would create a “strong and digital economy” for young people to escape the unemployment trap. She argued that elderly people who need new digital services to stay healthy and active, would also benefit from the reform.
“If we do this right, then digital connections can bring political connections. Digital dividends can bring social ones,” she said.
“Everyone loves the benefits of EU price cuts to roaming. It is the one thing even Eurocritics agree the EU did well. And it could never have happened without the EU. But this fact is also a challenge. On one hand my portfolio is the source of this incredibly popular EU policy… but on the other hand we struggle to push other telecoms and digital issues to the top of the political agenda. A strong single market package is the way to change that.”
Kroes also argues that there is no place for borders in the telecoms sector; and that it is a market where the barriers are unneeded, and yet so high. She therefore called for the development of a “radical legislative compromise”.
“I chose those words carefully. “Radical” because an economic disaster requires big action. “Compromise” because everyone will have to give, in order to get,” she explained.
“We will each need to consider all the pieces in the jigsaw, not only our personal favourites, or the visible and sexy changes. Often the invisible investments are just as important for long-term consumer welfare. And in the case of roaming, it is only if a genuine single market actually exists that roaming can cease to exist, in legal or economic terms.
“I come to you with an open mind about how to assemble to jigsaw.”
Kroes ended her speech calling on MEPs who believe in the single market and a strong Europe to believe in this reform.
“This is the opportunity to stand up and be counted. I will fight with my last breath to get us there together.”
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