12 November 2015 in Joao Pessoa, Brazil (Internet Governance Forum 2015): Joint Declaration signed by European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip and Members of the European Parliament Carlos Zorrinho, David Borrelli, Sabine Verheyen, Julie Ward, Therese Comodini-Cachia, Michal Boni, Josef Weidenholzer, Eva Kaili, Marietje Schaake and Julia Reda

The internet is a common good for humanity and ensuring its good governance will help bring its benefits to all people in the world

We have been discussing all aspects of internet governance during the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) this November including its future as addressed in the context of the upcoming UN review of the outcomes of the "World Summit on Information Society" (WSIS+10 review). 

We believe Europe has much to contribute to ensure a shared governance of the internet is based on clear, fair, inclusive and transparent rules.

Our European stakeholders have been working very hard to timely finalise and implement key reforms in the way some of the internet's core technical functions are managed (IANA transition and ICANN accountability). 

In Joao Pessoa we have argued strongly for:

  • improved internet access all over the world;
  • An open and independent internet as a global, common resource, together with non-discriminatory access to knowledge ;
  • the need to find solutions related to cybersecurity and cybercrimes, ranging from: (i) solutions to improve the security of critical infrastructures; (ii) giving the appropriate tools for secure communication to individuals and small businesses;

The EU delegation recognised that fundamental freedoms and human rights must be protected both online and offline and stressed the economic and social importance of online rights for privacy and of users' control of their personal data.

In light of the ongoing work on the Digital Single Market strategy in Europe, which underlines the importance of the digital economy and of internet access for citizens and companies, we restate our belief that a sustainable and inclusive governance of the Internet is fundamental to ensuring this strategy is successful and is essential to the world as a whole.

The EU delegation recalled its support for the development of the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO) to build capacity and share knowledge around the world of Internet policy and governance.

Necessary steps to ensure global access to open and inclusive internet

We are strongly committed to the openness of the Internet globally. 

Recently a political agreement in Europe to establish net neutrality rules has been reached. This agreement enshrines for the first time the principle of net neutrality into EU law

In Europe, the IGF has been a catalyst for the creation of regional and national IGFs. The pan-European Dialogue on internet governance (EuroDIG) has been providing active and positive input to the global IGF that contributes to raising the level of inclusivity in discussions and enriches the debate by bringing in European perspectives. EuroDig is strongly supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament, where both will be present at next year's EuroDIG conference in June in Brussels. 

2015 is a critical year for global internet governance

The General Assembly of the United Nations will gather for the 10 year review of the World Summit on Information Society in December.  This meeting is the culmination of a long process of reflection on the role of the digital society for the growth of developing countries and to close the gap with the developed ones. It will be an important moment to shape economic and social development by and through ICT for the future.

Further to the European Parliamentary resolution adopted in February 2015 on the Renewal of the mandate of the IGF, the EU Delegation calls on the United Nations General Assembly to renew the mandate of IGF and to further strengthen its resources. Recognising the value of the IGF as an important space that "offers a positive and concrete context for the shaping of the internet's future on the basis of a multi-stakeholder approach", we acknowledge that lessons can already be acted upon from the IGF and, in particular as regards regulatory aspects of electronic communication, data security and privacy issues, while further discussions are still needed on issues related to cybersecurity and cybercrime.  

The current WSIS document calls for a ten year extension to the IGF mandate which reflects the EP resolution. 

At the IGF 2015 in Brazil, EU representatives met with a range of internet stakeholders including ICANN, net neutrality advocates, and civil society organisations working to ensure the protection of digital rights, as well as industry and government leaders.