The EU’s drive to get all 27 member states included on the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) has run up against a wall. The view of multiple sources closely monitoring the dossier is that the US Congress will have to pass new legislation before Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania will have any chance of joining the other EU23. Though some on Capitol Hill are sympathetic to their cause, nothing is likely to happen until 2011 at the earliest. Even if Congress changes the rules to make it easier for the EU4 to enter, they still need to be invited to join by the US administration and there is little indication that the Obama administration is interested in expanding the programme.
On September 23, 2010, The European Institute hosted a luncheon meeting with Ambassador Philip Verveer, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy at the U.S. Department of State. With the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Plenipotentiary Meeting only weeks in the offing, Ambassador Verveer addressed prospects for a new international telecommunications regulatory regime and emphasized the importance of limiting governmental controls. Additional areas of particular priority for the United States were internet governance and cyber security, and he stressed the importance of U.S.-EU cooperation in the setting of international telecommunications standards. Ambassador Verveer expressed his support for the European Union’s ambitious new digital agenda, and spoke of the productive discussions he has had with officials from the European Commission’s Information Society and Media Directorate. A key mutual interest is the potential of cloud computing, which would make computing infrastructure and services available on a utility-like basis.
On September 20, 2010, the European Institute welcomed The Honorable Eamon Ryan T.D., Minister for Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources of the Republic of Ireland. In a comprehensive presentation on Harnessing the Knowledge and Green Economies for Sustainable Growth, Minister Ryan began by addressing the Ireland’s current debt crisis and the government’s efforts to reduce the budget deficit to 3% of GDP in five years and to achieve more that 4% growth by 2012. Central to these efforts is investment and trade in the energy and ICT sectors, which Minister Ryan argues are key components for sustainable economic growth. As examples, he cited Ireland’s implementation of a National Retrofit Program to deliver energy efficiency upgrades and ongoing efforts to draw upon such plentiful renewable energy resources as wind. Minister Ryan stressed the importance of similar priorities in the European Union and emphasized the need for a common energy market within the EU, a single European digital market, and freer global technology transfer between the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Global Poll Offers New Proof of Web’s Widening, Deepening Societal Role
Nearly 80 percent of people around the world think that access to the internet should be a “fundamental right,” according to a global poll conducted by the BBC World Service. Covering 26 countries, it surveyed 27,000 adults, including both internet users and people not using the web. The survey showed that str(79 percent) answered “yes” to a question on people’s entitlement to internet access – a view implying both a demand for the expansion of high-speed broadband telecommunications infrastructure and also opposition to unreasonable charges or censorship on users.
Sarkozy Proposes Rival Digitization Plan Made in France
As a key (and culturally symbolic) part of its grandiose global design to make and compile electronic copies of all existing books, Google, the U.S. online search giant, has long sought to digitize the nearly 15 million books on the shelves of the French National Library. From the outset, Google’s ambitions have met opposition in some French circles, and now President Nicolas Sarkozy has put his foot down, announcing that Paris will put up more than $1 billion to fund its own national electronic-scanning project for France’s body of literary work.
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