World Summit becomes focus for telecom ministers

The EU will prioritise the future governance of the internet and financial mechanisms for bridging the digital divide between industrial nations and developing countries. 

The EU’s agenda is pretty much in line with the overall priorities of the summit: Agreements must be reached in particular in the fields of internet governance and financing mechanisms to bridge the digital divide. A number of working groups have been set up in order to bring these goals forward and to boost the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. 

During phase one, no real solution to the financing issue has been found. Governments set up a Task Force to study existing and possible new financing mechanisms. The Task Force’s report was published in January 2005.

The situation on Internet Governance is somewhat similar. A Working Group was set up in order to review and develop recommendations on the role of different stakeholders in internet governance. The Working Group’s report is due in July 2005; drafts are available for comments on the internet. 

The EU is ready to increase its public aid to development budget to 0.56% of GDP by 2010, which would mean 20 billion euro being available in addition to to the EU's present aid budget. Much of this is expected to be invested in line with the UN Millennium Goals. 

On internet governance, the EU is still trying to reach an agreement on the internationalisation of the functions presently bundled in ICANN, namely management of the internet's base sources, the domain name system and IP and root server addresses. 

Phase one of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) took place in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003. Its objective was "to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and take concrete steps to establish the foundations for an Information Society for all, reflecting all the different interests at stake". A Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action were adopted in order to bring these objectives forward.   

When defining their priorities for phase two on 27 June 2005, EU telecommunication ministers and Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding discussed the EU's negotiating priorities. 

WSIS phase two will take place in Tunis on  16-18 November 2005.  It is mainly about monitoring and evaluating the progress of feasible actions laid out in the Geneva Plan, but it will also look at a concrete set of deliverables that must be achieved by the time of this meeting.   

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