Belgium’s assumption of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union commences a critical year for Europe, with European Parliament elections in June and a new European Commission to be appointed towards the end of 2024.
The Belgian Presidency has already made commitments to strengthening the European economy and its internal market, which we wholeheartedly welcome. But as this year unfolds, the EU’s 2030 Digital Decade targets creep ever closer, placing even greater emphasis on making meaningful progress in Europe’s digital transformation, for the benefit of all of its citizens and businesses.
We believe it to be of the utmost importance that this Presidency focuses on Europe’s most important strategic industries, and technology and telecommunications in particular. They are not only vital for regional prosperity, but also to ensure that Europe can compete strongly on the world stage.
The Presidency must, therefore, work with the telecoms industry to ensure an investment culture in digital infrastructure to carry through the region’s technological and economic ambitions, addressing market fragmentation and removing the regulatory barriers that hamper progress.
Delivering the Gigabit Infrastructure Act during this Presidency will go a long way to removing bureaucratic hurdles that limit the ability of infrastructure providers to extend their networks. We anticipate that the Belgian Presidency will make every possible effort to ensure that the provisions for the quick and simplified deployment of Very High Capacity Networks across Member States are included in the final version of the Gigabit Infrastructure Act, opening up more communities to next-generation communications and extending to harder to reach places with gigabit-speed connectivity.
During this Presidency we expect the publication of a white paper for the planned Digital Networks Act. With it, the European Commission will explore the potential for measures that will create a true single market for telecoms, enabling telecommunications operators to achieve the necessary scale with world-leading infrastructure, addressing imbalances in strategic investment and regulation that is currently holding back the advancement of Europe’s digital economy.
We look forward to working with and supporting the Belgian Presidency throughout its agenda to progress these and other policies in the first half of 2024, building a better-connected Europe in the process.