Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

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Life begins at 50: keeping the Internet unified, open, and inclusive

I and many others recently met to discuss the future of global Internet governance at the NETmundial conference in Brazil. Next week is the next milestone in the roadmap we set out there: the 50th meeting of ICANN, and the High Level Governmental Meeting of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee on Monday 23rd. I thank the UK government and Minister Ed Vaizey for hosting such significant events in Europe, and would like to remind you all – colleagues, friends, stakeholders and Internet users of all kinds – why this is important.

Recently I shared with the Internet community my vision of Internet governance – in the form of 11 explanatory papers. Each one sets out our perspective on the issues that matter and what's at stake: particularly public policy, good governance, and how we might move forward.

I believe in transparency. In that spirit I am sharing with you, ahead of the event, the letter I sent to all the Ministers and delegations attending the High Level Governmental Meeting.

In the letter, I stress that "it is our political responsibility to ensure that the governance of the Internet is open and inclusive of all stakeholders, compliant with human rights and respectful of the rule of law. An internet based on democratic principles and where the global public interest takes centre stage. It is also essential that the frameworks through which key decisions concerning the Internet are taken can evolve to cope up with current independence, transparency and accountability demands".

It is still too early to take a definite position on which governance structures would best ensure that change happens. But there are significant needs and expectations from the Internet community. A solution based on purely commercial or purely inter-governmental solutions would be at the expense of the global public interest, and will not satisfy those needs.

ICANN is, for the time being, a private not-for-profit corporation contracted by the United States government. Its rules and internal decision-making structures will have to evolve to be truly accountable to governments and stakeholders around the world.

The ICANN meetings in London next week and Los Angeles in October should be a game changer for the upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary. Let's break down silos: let's take this opportunity to work together and help ICANN improve its effectiveness and its credibility, as an honest broker in the Internet Governance ecosystem. The internet promises a bright future for the whole world; let's show that for its governance institutions, life begins at 50.

The letter I sent to attendees of the High Level Governmental meeting is here. On a separate but related note, you can also read the letter I sent to the ICANN Board on the issue of new "generic top level domain names" .wine and .vin.