Luxembourg, Friday 9 June 2017
Minister Denis Naughten. T.D., today attended the Telecoms Council in Luxembourg. The main topic on the agenda was the Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy which is now at its mid-point. The meeting focussed heavily on digital connectivity, a topic the Minister has long been a strong proponent of, especially in respect of Ireland’s National Broadband Plan which will deliver high speed broadband services to every premises in Ireland.
Speaking in Luxembourg Minister Naughten said, “I welcome the considerable progress made to date under the EU DSM Strategy. I am delighted that we have been able to achieve agreement on EU Roam Like at Home and the liberalisation of the 700Mhz spectrum band in what has been called the first stepping stone towards future 5G in Europe. Mastering connectivity and enabling the next generation networks in preparation for 5G must remain our central focus. A geographical rather than population oriented release of spectrum to facilitate the improvement of broadband and mobile coverage, so that no premises are left behind, especially in rural areas, will be critical for Ireland.”
Commenting on the importance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to both the Irish and wider EU economy, and the role that the DSM can play in creating job growth, Minister Naughten welcomed the recent announcement by the European Commission to legislate for Free Flow of Data. Minister Naughten said, “We fundamentally support the principle of removing unnecessary data localisation restrictions which hinder the ability of SMEs in particular, from doing business easily across the Single Market. The cost of switching Cloud providers for example, is prohibitive for many small businesses. Dublin alone currently has circa 1,200 tech/digital companies and there is ample opportunity for the establishment of further such companies both in Ireland and right across Europe if we create the right business environment. Robust and transparent rules allowing for the free movement of data across EU Member States represent an excellent step forward in this regard”.
The Minister added: “We must keep to the fore that a fully functioning digital single market can contribute €800,000 every minute to the EU economy, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. It is therefore important that we maintain a positive narrative about the digital economy and its opportunities while also taking the necessary measures to tackle threats, particularly on cyber security. This also applies to our work on ePrivacy where we need an outcome that is fully in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is future proof, and is technology neutral.”
While in Luxembourg, Minister Naughten also held a series of bilateral meetings with Ministers from Spain, Sweden and Poland respectively, in which the above issues were discussed further.