Thu. Sep 28th, 2023

Brussels, 2 June 2023

Gigabit Infrastructure Act

The Council took note of a progress report on the proposal for a regulation on measures to reduce the cost of deploying gigabit electronic communications networks (gigabit infrastructure act).

This regulation aims to replace the broadband cost reduction directive (BCRD) adopted in 2014. The proposal is based on the experience drawn from the application of the BCRD and its main objective is to improve the conditions for the deployment of very high capacity networks in Europe. The proposal also aims to lower the costs of the deployment of electronic communication networks, shorten the time needed to obtain the necessary licences from member states’ authorities and reach a minimum harmonisation concerning the permit granting procedures across the Union. Finally, the proposal addresses the access to, and deployment of, the in-building infrastructure and aims to facilitate cross-border applications.

Detailed examination of the proposal at the Council’s Working Party on telecommunications and information society identified some areas requiring particular attention before reaching an agreement within the Council, such as the system of ‘tacit’ approval of permits, disclosure of works on critical infrastructure, the legal form of the proposal, guidances and implementing powers, single information points (SIPs) and technological neutrality. The Swedish presidency will ensure a smooth handover to the incoming Spanish presidency.

Interoperable Europe Act

The Council took note of a progress report on the proposal for a regulation laying down measures for a high level of public sector interoperability across the Union (interoperable Europe act).

The proposal aims to set up a new framework to enable public administrations across the EU to cooperate more effectively and ensure the seamless delivery of public services across borders, thus saving time and costs for citizens and businesses.

The Council’s Working Party on telecommunications and information society has examined this proposal. Based on member states’ comments, the Swedish presidency has drafted two compromise texts with some changes to the Commission’s proposal linked to:
– the scope and proportionality of the regulation
– the interoperability assessment, and
– the alignment with the artificial intelligence act (AIA) and the general data protection regulation (GDPR)

Given that further discussion and analysis are needed on this file, the presidency intends to continue work on the proposal during its term in preparation of a smooth handover to the incoming Spanish presidency.

Cyber Resilience Act

The Council took note of a progress report on the proposal for a regulation on horizontal cybersecurity requirements for products with digital elements (cyber resilience act).

The proposal aims to fill the gaps in the existing cybersecurity legislation by ensuring that
products with digital elements, such as Internet of Things (IoT) products, including connected home cameras, refrigerators, TVs, toys and non-embedded software become secure throughout the whole supply chain and throughout their whole lifecycle.

Detailed examination of this proposal at the Council’s Horizontal Working Party on Cyber Issues (HWPCI) has enabled significant progress in the recent months, but has also showed that further discussion is needed on certain points, such as the classification of products with digital elements with regard to their sensitivity and reporting obligations for manufacturers.

The Swedish presidency plans to continue the work in the coming weeks with a view to achieving further progress on this important file.

The future of the connectivity sector

The Council held an exchange of views on the future of the connectivity sector.

A sustainable and well-functioning connectivity infrastructure is essential in order to strengthen the EU’s long-term competitiveness and the Commission has recently conducted an exploratory consultation on the future of the connectivity sector. In light of significant technical and market developments, the questions of further roll-out of connectivity infrastructure have sparked a debate on the need for investments and the current regulatory conditions for the electronic communications sector.

Against this background, ministers reflected on this important topic and signalled the need for a thorough analysis and impact assessment. Ministers also shared their thoughts on other challenges and developments the electronic communications sector is facing that would require attention in the path to Europe’s digital transformation to 2030 and beyond.

Any other business

The presidency reported on the state of play of current legislative proposals, namely:

  • the eID regulation
  • the data act
  • the ePrivacy regulation

The Commission informed ministers on the state of play of international initiatives in the digital field with a focus on trade and technology councils and digital partnerships, as well as on security of 5G and other connectivity infrastructures.

With regard to artificial intelligence (AI), the presidency informed the Council on the conference on ‘Sustainable AI and AI for sustainability’ held in Gothenburg on 2-3 May 2023 and, at the initiative of the Danish delegation, ministers exchanges views on practices and initiatives addressing the use of AI, outside the legislative process in the EU.

The Lithuanian, Polish and Portuguese delegations informed the Council about setting a coordination mechanism within the EU and strengthening the relations between the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the EU.

The Polish delegation informed the Council about improving the digital economy and society index (DESI).

Finally, the Spanish presidency presented its priorities and work programme for the second half of 2023.

Informal lunch

Over an informal lunch, ministers held a comprehensive exchange views on the topic of a competitive and digital Europe beyond 2030. Ministers reflected on possible ways to ensure an innovation-friendly approach to regulation in the digital field and explored possible measures to ensure a growth-enhancing regulatory framework for the EU’s digital transformation without leading to additional administrative burden for businesses in Europe.

Source – EU Council

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