[AfrICANN-discuss] Digital Agenda/Trade: EU and US agree trade-related information and communication technology principles to be promoted world-wide

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Tue Apr 5 16:23:54 SAST 2011


Digital Agenda/Trade: EU and US agree trade-related information and
communication technology principles to be promoted world-wide

The European Commission and the US Government, under the framework of
the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), have agreed on a set of ten
fundamental principles for trade in information and communication
technology (ICT) services. The EU and the US, in cooperation with
other countries, will promote these principles worldwide in order to
support the global development of ICT networks & services and allow
service providers to compete for contracts with local incumbents on an
equal footing. European Commission Vice-President for the Digital
Agenda Neelie Kroes and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht welcomed
these principles as an important milestone in implementing the
Commission's Future Trade Policy Communication (MEMO/10/555) and
Europe's Digital Agenda (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).

Neelie Kroes said "These principles, which both the EU and the US will
seek to incorporate in their trade agreements with other countries,
will help to ensure that trade rules are used as an effective tool to
open up ICT markets worldwide to the benefit of all businesses and

Karel De Gucht said "The principles agreed today are an excellent
example to demonstrate the important role the TEC can play in bringing
transatlantic convergence activities to a higher political level. This
will also help us when engaging with other trade partners".

The EU and US will now promote common principles such as transparency,
open networks, flows of cross-border information, non-discriminatory
use of local infrastructure, efficient and non-discriminatory use of
spectrum, and the like. The principles will support EU and US efforts
to raise the profile of ICT services in bilateral agreements as well
as in the WTO. Cooperation between the EU and the US in the TEC has
been instrumental in achieving this outcome.

The EU-US Trade Principles for Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) Services can be summarised as follows:


      Transparency of rules affecting trade in ICT and ICT services

      Open networks for consumers to access and distribute
information, applications and services of their choice

      Cross-border flows of information

      No requirement to use local infrastructure for ICT services

      Governments should allow full foreign participation in their ICT
services sector, through establishment or other means

      Efficient and maximised use of radio spectrum

      Independence of regulatory authorities overseeing ICT services

      Simple authorisation of competitive telecommunications services

      ICT service suppliers must have the right to interconnect with
other service providers for access to publicly available
telecommunications networks and services. Public telecom services
suppliers should be able to negotiate and obtain interconnection with
major suppliers at cost-oriented, non-discriminatory and transparent

      International cooperation with a view to increasing the level of
digital literacy in third countries and reducing the 'digital divide'.

The EU and the US intend to cooperate with third countries to enhance
national regulatory capacity and support the global development of ICT
networks and services. Implementation of these principles by countries
worldwide would not only allow European and US companies to benefit
from much better commercial opportunities, but also allow the people
living in these countries to benefit from lower and more competitive
prices for ICT services, and to enjoy access to a wider range of

For example, market access in a number of countries is hindered by the
licensing regimes currently applied, which favour domestic companies.
Promoting a simplified authorisation scheme would allow foreign
companies to compete on the merits. Another example regards the
provision of satellite services. European satellite providers are
world leaders, but in many countries foreign firms are allowed to
deliver services only once the capacity of national satellites is
exhausted. Application of the EU-US principle relating to local
infrastructure would avoid such discrimination.


The EU-US Trade Principles for ICT Services have been agreed on a best
endeavour basis and do not affect the rights of the EU or the US to
maintain their respective policy approaches to the protection of
intellectual property, privacy and personal data and the enhancement
of cultural diversity. The principles will be reviewed every two years
and are without prejudice to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rights and
obligations and exceptions under the General Agreement on Trade in
Services (GATS).

The TEC met December last under the co-chairmanship of Commissioner De
Gucht and Deputy National Security Advisor Mike Froman. Since its
creation in 2007 the TEC has been the central political platform for
EU-US cooperation on regulatory and economic strategy issues. Its main
objectives are to further transatlantic regulatory convergence, thus
helping to prevent barriers to trade and investment, in particular in
key emerging sectors. The TEC is also meant to facilitate coordinated
approaches to other markets. The principles agreed today can be seen
as a concrete step in this direction.

For further information

The EU-U.S. Trade Principles for Information and Communication
Technology Services are available here:


Digital Agenda website:


Neelie Kroes' website:


Karel De Gucht's website:


Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter:


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