Reding pledges “innovation, inclusion and creativity” in information society

At her ‘investiture’ hearing in Parliament, the
future Commissioner for Media and Information Society, Viviane
Reding, has pledged to relaunch the EU economy through new
technologies.

Speaking before MEPs at her ‘investiture’ hearing on
29 September, the new Commissioner designate for
information society and media, Viviane Reding, vowed to
be the “commissioner for innovation, inclusion and
creativity”. 

As the challenges facing the information society
gradually shift from infrastructure and connectivity to
making quality content available online, Reding, as
previous Commissioner for media and culture, had a strong
case. “Imagine a new film coming out simultaneously in
Paris, in a mountain village and on a Greek island,
thanks to new technology!”, she said.

But as more European get access to fast internet
connections, Reding says they are still underused:
“Broadband is available on 80% of the European network
but has been taken up by only 7% of users”, she pointed
out.

She cited the GSM standard for mobile phones (2G) as
an example of how the EU can stimulate growth by helping
to establish technological standards. “How many Europeans
know that GSM is the culmination of research projects
financed by the European Union budget?” said Reding
rethorically. “We have strong 3G operators and it would
be unthinkable for Europe not to benefit from the
development of this new standard,” she added.

Reding also pledged for more inclusion in Europe’s
burgeoning information society, saying she would fight
the ‘digital divide’ by bringing disadvantaged groups
such as the elderly and the disabled “out of their
isolation and offer them services such as distance
medical consultation”.

Pressed by socialist MEPs over fears of increasing
media concentration in Europe, Reding said the issue was
“close to [her] heart” as she had worked as a journalist
for “over twenty years”. However, she explained that “the
Commission has no legal basis on which to act”.

In a press release, the Socialist Group in Parliament
said they were “disappointed in her vague responses to
many questions”. “Saying media pluralism is only a matter
for member states is not good enough,” they stated.
However, they added that they “would recommend that their
Group ratify Ms Reding’s nomination” as she had “sent a
clear message on the need to protect media
pluralism”.

The European Parliament will vote on whether to
approve the whole Commission between 25-28 October in
Strasbourg.

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