International Connectivity: European Data-Gateway Platforms and the Global Gateway – WS 03 2022
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Europe can not be an Island in the digital arena. How international connectivity can foster European digital sovereignty and autonomy?
International Connectivity in the context European data-Gateway Platforms and the Global Gateway, “The Digital Decade: The European Way for the Digital” recognizes connectivity as a pillar for the required digital transformation. Connectivity should be a fundamental building block in EU efforts, highlighting the importance of connecting Europe to the rest of the world. The Digital Decade is complemented by The European Data-Gateway Ministerial Declaration that was adopted at the initiative of the Portuguese presidency. The Declaration calls for Increased attention to international connectivity through submarine cables and other technologies. Both the Digital Decade and the Ministerial Declaration are key steps towards establishing a comprehensive digital connectivity strategy not just between the EU Members, but also to other regions across the Globe. This strategy is crucial to turn the EU into world-class data hub and its digital products competitive worldwide. This is where the Global Gateway steps in. Launched on December 1, 2021, Global Gateway is the new European Strategy to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport . It aims to mobilise up to €300 billion in investments between 2021 and 2027. The Eurodig should discuss the importance of International connectivity for the EU competitiveness in the digital world and for building a human-centric digital transformation.
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- European Data Gateways as a key element of the EU’s Digital Decade – Ministerial Declaration, https://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/dae/document.cfm?doc_id=74941
- Global Gateway: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/stronger-europe-world/global-gateway_en
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- Manuel da Costa Cabral
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- Sivasubramanian Muthusamy
- Manuel Costa Cabral
- Charles Martinet
- Fotjon Kosta
- Delphine Bernet-Travert, IRG Secretary General
- David Ringrose, Head of Division, Connectivity and Digital Transition. European External Action Service (EEAS)
- Filipe Batista, Foreign Affairs and Development Office Director, ANACOM, Portugal
- Valter Nordh, NORDUnet CEO
- Eka Kubusidze, Head of Communications, Information and Modern Technologies Department, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia
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- Tomas Lamanauskas, Managing Partner of Envision Associates
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>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: I think we may start. One minute passed. We will assume that everyone is here. Hello, everyone, from different parts of Europe and the world and great to be here, at least virtually. So always A great place. And congrats to those who are there.
Today we will explore the theme of international connectivity and European digital autonomy and sovereignty. So how to strengthen this, what it is. Whether we are connecting to others, strengthen it. We weaken this. And whether the specific actions that the European Union as such, including European acceleration service as well as different national authorities are doing. And also countries, you know, countries – other countries in Europe as well.
So I have a very great – we have a great panel to explore this topic with. I will quickly introduce everyone here. We have Delphine Bernet-Travert. She is the Secretary-General of the Independent Regulators Group. This group unites National Regulatory Authorities in Europe. And I have a bit of a sentiment to this group. That’s probably my first Forum where we participated internationally 20 years ago. And maybe predating European regulators’ group and dating BEREC and continuing strong until now. Welcome and we will hear from you.
Then we have David Ringrose. He is a head of division on connectivity and digital transition on European External Action Service. David is responsible for shaping digital foreign policy for the European Union.
We have also with us Filipe Batista who is a digital counselor at the permanent representation of Portugal at the European Union. And he was also part of the Portuguese presidency just around a year ago where we issued and led quite a few initiatives in strengthening digital connectivity, including the Ministerial Declaration on European data gateway platforms. We will hear from him on that in a bit.
We also have from different – most of the people I have introduced so far are from the Government. We have different stakeholders, Valter Nordh from NORDUnet. It is a collaboration between national research networks of five Nordic countries. And he will – he may bring perspective on the academic community and other stakeholders as well in this session.
And last but not least we have Eka Kubusidze in Georgia. So also a very close partner looking from a union perspective. Also a strong member. So we have with these different stakeholders let me kick start. And I encourage everyone to use the virtual format. Of course, you should be able to raise hands. And I hope I will see you. But also feel free just to use the chat for questions if you have for the speakers.
And also speakers, when you don’t speak, feel free to use chat to respond to those questions. So let’s leverage on the virtual format that we have and then we will try to bring it in to discussion. We talk about digital sovereignty in our economy. Is it equal of building fortress Europe and saying we as Europe we need to be totally on our own and strong? Or this is still about interconnection and somehow strong in a big environment? And probably the best person to kick us off with that is David from the EEAS to give a perspective from the European Union as such. Please, David.
>> DAVID RINGROSE: Thanks, very much, Tomas. And thanks very much for the possibility to be here today and a great lineup, including Eka who I worked with on Eastern Partnership Digital Programmes. Sovereignty is about the – having the freedom to choose primarily. And when we are looking at – trying to do in digital policy around the world, what we are trying to do is to develop support for a free, open, single secure Internet. We are trying to work with partners to provide both hard and soft connectivity. And obviously the biggest is the Bela cable that we launched last year with Brazil. And the great thing it is not just a piece of hard infrastructure linking Europe and Latin America, but it is also a piece of infrastructure with a GDPR on both ends.
So it is hard and soft infrastructure together. The enabling environment, the regulatory framework and so on. And we talk a lot about Europe supporting its autonomy and sovereignty by exporting its norms. And that’s an important part of it. But I think as everyone says the referee doesn’t win the game. So we have to do more if we are going to succeed in this digital competition. We have to do more than export our norms. We have to put money on the table. And that’s what’s changed a lot.
Now we have a situation where we have a significant boost in funding available under our external programs and EPA for the neighborhood. Up to ten times more funding than we had in the previous budget. We are in a good position to combine the funding and great regulatory frameworks that we have for supporting. The Networks we have, the partnerships that we have with a lot of people on this call, whether they are the Member States working in team Europe or whether our partners working on research cooperation and so on to try to ensure that we can support the human centric digital transformation around the world. That’s basically what we are trying to do.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thanks. It is not only about us closing up, but linking and then seeing how we can leverage that. This is from European looking – the European Union looking outwards. Delphine, maybe I can bring you in to the conversation. So what is sovereignty for you?
>> DELPHINE BERNET-TRAVERT: Thank you. It is s great honor to share a distinguished panel with you today. And thank also for the strategic questions. The content has been well displayed by David. I wanted to share with you what I think important which touched upon the political communication. And the narrative is extremely important to support a very concrete action you have and that’s been very well done by the ES and the European Commission launching this global gateway and the efforts provided by the Portuguese presidency in his time. I think that it shouldn’t be seen as a void or a contentless channel. It is just the opposite today.
The political narrative opened and paved the way for being understood and for being to mutually understand the partner you aim to cooperate with. So you will tell me what does it have to do with a question. For me it is – it boils down to the narrative and the importance of the linguistics. When you say sovereignty, you are not talking about ostracism, which is a different view. It gives already sort of a negative context to the use of EU sovereignty. Are you autonomous enough to use the word that you fully support and reflects your ambitions? And that you are not ashamed of it? And you should not let others describe your ambitions by a concept that you didn’t share or you never intended.
And I think this is really, really important. Where do we need it, also the other questions you have asked. Is that digital does not know any frontiers. And this is why the telecom regulators work together and also extend the cooperation with other regional telecoms regulators, organizations such as EU BEREC which has been mentioned by David. And also to others such as Emerg and Reglatel. It seems to indicate that with no frontier digital is very pervasive to other everyday life. It charged with it.
So we have to defend this digital models that supports and embeds human centric values. And there is no choice for the EU than to be absolutely sovereign and ambitious and autonomous enough. Not only constitute the only way but also to share it with like-minded partners all across the world. And the need to well formulate our ambitions which are not somehow invading or ambitioning that negative way. But just the way to reach hands. And I think that the fact that we include the infrastructure dimension in the global gateway initiative shows that we want a mutually sovereign enabling instrument via this initiative.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you very much, Delphine. You demonstrate how different formats. And different kind of – different formats of regulatory bodies, different formats of countries. Even if we were to talk about fortress Europe, what’s the Europe that we try to build a fortress around since it is much more clearly connected. I don’t know, you have been mentioned quite a few times, Eka, from the different perspective, from an EU perspective, from a neighborhood perspective. How do you see this European sovereignty or digital sovereignty discussion? Does it feel inclusive for you or exclusive for you? What’s your view about it?
>> EKA KUBUSIDZE: Hi, everyone. Thank you, Tomas, for giving me the floor. And first of all, it is my pleasure to be here with you to discuss about the connectivity. And first of all, we have – our Ministry of Sustainable Development of Georgia would like to extend our gratitude to the organizers. We are living in a digital era. So everyone gets together all the like European community to discuss the Internet Governance. And –
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: I think you are on mute, sorry.
>> EKA KUBUSIDZE: Sorry. Now can you hear me?
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Yeah, we can hear you now.
>> EKA KUBUSIDZE: Start again or to continue –
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Just last sentence.
>> EKA KUBUSIDZE: So about the connectivity, it is a very, very important issue because while talking about development of Digital Economy and Information Society, the connectivity, of course, is a fundamental space for development of the Digital Economy. And Georgia’s vision was always there to keep the Internet open, accessible. But, of course, secure with the principles of the European Union, of course. From our point of view, I just would like to mention that the key words regarding connectivity in Georgia, Georgia has the international connectivity gateways with all the neighboring countries. It is like submarine, undersea connectivity, links to Bulgaria, Russian Federation, Turkey and pass-through connectivity to neighbors. So we have like a gateway with all our neighbor countries.
18 international carrier companies use those cables to carry traffic across Georgia to link Georgia with the global internet. And it is also our main strategical priority to develop the international and local connectivity. As you may know that by the support of the European Union and the development group by the ministry has elaborated a national broadband development strategy for 2020-2025 and its implementation action plan. Which was elaborated in accordance with the European Union’s gigabit society program. One of the main priorities, direction under this strategy and under the Government program for 2021-2024 towards building the European state is the development of the international connectivity.
Georgia can serve as a conduit between the Europe, Middle East and Asia and other Central Asia as well. The existing situation with regards to the digital infrastructure along the international connectivity roads provide the opportunity for Georgia to develop its position.
Its original and global IP connectivity data centers and sharing the border with Europe via Black Sea, Georgia is well positioned to participate more actively in the market by forcing opportunities to development activity corridors in a short time between Europe and Middle East.
So nowadays according to the strategy, we work with the World Bank to elaborate the concept note, to elaborate the feasibility study that will identify the economic and technical aspects. As I already mentioned we have the gateways with all our neighboring countries. Nowadays we work to make a feasibility study with Georgia to identify our potential, identify our technical and economic aspects, topics, et cetera, to just strengthen our connectivity. And I very much hope that our European partners will support us in this process as well. And all those issues are based on the European vision, of course.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: So thank you very much. We already heard quite a few of very tangible examples of strengthening connectivity. And I think we will come back to more of those. As you say using a geographic position to be a link between different regions and that’s re-emphasized the theme of today of interconnectivity. I would like to go a little bit back to the concepts, to the concept of international connectivity as a means of strengthening digital sovereignty in Europe.
And Filipe mentioned before the Portuguese President in which it was pushed this concept that strengthening – what instigated that and maybe you can explain the actions taken by Ministers.
>> FILIPE BATISTA: Thank you so much. Good friends that we have been working together for a long time, thank you for the invitations. It is a pleasure to be here and share some thoughts with you.
Let me start from the beginning. That’s a good question. But I think it is important to go back a little bit in time in order to understand where we come from and where are we arriving, to enable us to bigger flights. So when we first – when we first start to prepare the Portuguese presidency in 2021, we are faced with a Commission’s communication on shaping Europe’s digital future where we didn’t see any reference regarding international connectivity or there was very – it was very untapped that topic. And for us was kind of strange because the communication was brilliant. And pinpoint all the important topics that could lead Europe to the major goal that the Commission wanted to propose, which is to lead Digital Economy worldwide.
But we saw that it was dismissing part of the puzzle which was international connectivity. First of all, when we talk about sovereignty and autonomy I think we need to bring to the table the concept of protective and protectionist. We just chart two different things. And I think that Europe is in the right path to be protective in order to give us autonomy and also sovereignty. But we will never be protectionists because we are open market. We want to ensure that this is the best way to be in terms of digital, in terms of storage and in terms of protection of Human Rights. And also in terms of all the policies are focused on the human-centered approach.
So when we saw the communication shaping Europe’s digital future and the lack of references to the international connectivity, we posed two main questions. The first one, how can Europe lead the Digital Economy worldwide if we are not connected and not present in other digital markets. The EU market is huge. We all know that. But it is not enough to put us in a position of leaders.
The second question that we came up with was if Europe is also trying to be a world class digital hub, and the thirst-worthy country in terms of data storage we need to be connected to other continents. We need to ensure that we are resilient and redundant in terms of connectivity in Europe because the massive amounts of investments that we are facing now in very high capacity networks, in the 5G corridors, will not be enough in order to ensure us that we will be resilient. And we will be redundant in terms of connectivity to ensure that all the data that we are going to receive and send around Europe will be protected and will be also very swiftly moved around the different Member States, taking advantage of the data knowledge that we are trying to build along with other initiatives, like the guy X, for example.
Those two main questions, then we match them with our competitors because I mean let’s face it, we are not enemies with anyone in the world but we are competitors in other regions, namely China and U.S. Looking at China they have this new silk road initiative which puts them on the map and includes international connectivity as a key element of the strategy. It is obvious that the next wave of goods or services will be digital. And so their focus is on. On the other side we have the United States not with public policy per se but having the biggest OTTs investing massively in international connectivity and storage and data management as well.
So we needed to have an answer for that. And I was lucky enough to have on the other side of the table a person like David Ringrose, which clearly understood the point that we were raising. And together with the Commission we came up with a Declaration that was signed by all the Member States plus Iceland and Norway on the digital days during the Portuguese presidency.
And I will hand over the ball, just one last comment because I think it is important because it goes with your first question of the sovereignty and autonomy of connectivity. And in terms of digital, one of the things that we were really worried and we wanted to make it clear for all Member States and for the Commission was the importance to look in to your Europe as a four piece puzzle on the overall strategy of international connectivity.
First of all, because the four different regions that we identified on the data gateway platform strategy were planned in a way that, for instance, Eka was just giving us some examples, which make that part of the territory of Europe much more sensitive in terms of geopolitical approach. For instance, in terms of the Atlantic platform, for instance, that platform is probably much more important in terms of geo economic interest and the approach. The amount that we have coming through the Atlantic they have to land somewhere. Dividing Europe in to four different platforms enable us to see the investments and more clear view of the different geopolitical importance of regions and also to have a better control of the data flows which, of course, will give us or enhance our sovereignty and also our security because that’s – I don’t know if that’s a topic that you are going to bring up. It is important to remember the submarine cable Networks will be part of the old network that’s around Europe.
If we don’t take care of the – of their security, we will also be putting a risk to the internal Networks and all the communications that we have within the Member States. I will stop here because I think I speak too much.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Filipe, I might ask you one follow-up question in a minute. You raise important points. Sovereignty is about security and I think we – and it doesn’t mean that within Europe, whatever Europe uses to linking to other regions. We will come back to this.
Whether call European silk way and I will bring it in later, David, to talk about the global gateway program and anything else around that. Is it responsible competition or not? And again David will give us in a minute. Before we go there I still wanted to – so to come back to the specifics of implementation, so it is a strategy. There is a Declaration. There is a clear vision there. So what’s the implementation. And here, context of – and, of course, I know that Portugal is doing quite a bit there. But, you know, about – so what are the cable projects that are kind of implementing that? Doing enough of those? Are we planning more of those in the future?
>> FILIPE BATISTA: The first outcome which made us very happy is we have a global gateway which was presented by the Commission which is much broader than only connectivity. That was the first big outcome.
The second take-away and that’s something when I left Brussels and went back to the regulator in Portugal, I had an opportunity to work very closely with Delphine and the IRG to bring awareness to the regulators, this is a very important topic for the regulators. Because also at the beginning of the discussions when we were starting this whole strategy, we realized that no one in Europe was aware of the state of the art of the international connectivity or international submarine cable systems that we had around Europe. And this is something that we have to look at very carefully.
In order to enable us to better predict and better prepare investments in the future, for instance, David was mentioning the Bela cable. But I have no doubts that we have to look in to Africa and try to promote a Bela cable with Africa, building Bela, with one l, because we have to understand where the flows of it are coming. What to do. So here the Commission I think, and sorry for picking on David, but I think here the Commission has a very important role to play. We need to understand what is the flow of the data that we have in Europe. Was ejecting that data in to our markets. Who is receiving that data as well.
And this is a work that has to be done together with the Commission and together with IRG and BEREC and all the other stakeholders, even the private sector in order to enable us to better understand. And then with all the data and information we have, we can act properly not only in terms of new cables to predict the need of new ones and to understand who is dealing or who is managing those cables. And that information that will enable us to act and promote security and resilience as well. I’m not sure I answered your question.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Yes, I think. We will have more time to discuss further. But it is definitely important pointers. A few other people will be able to continue on those, including David and Delphine in a minute. Before that, Valter, I would like to bring you in to the conversation. By definition it is something that links European Networks and European countries. But, you know, what about others. Do you see the importance of linking that with other parts of the world? Do you see the importance of strengthening that connectivity? But then you happen on what specifically you are doing in whichever version you have, please.
>> VALTER NORDH: Thank you. And thank you for being part of this panel. A lot of very interesting comments has been raised already around connectivity, around resilience, about choice. And so taking a step back from National Research Education Networks, and we a long time ago were mostly the ones bringing Internet in to infancy in to a lot of countries, taking Internet to the outside of the academic world.
And for us in the NRA space collaboration has been vital and key for the academic community to be able to reach and to talk to other researchers independently of where they are located.
So this fortress Europe is a concept that I feel a bit strange to. Most things seeing Europe as an island and we need to make sure that the island of Europe has as good connectivity to all of the other different islands in the world where we have.
And the academic sector faces the same challenges in all over the world. One of them is definitely connectivity. So, Tomas, connectivity is vital for the academic sector. When the academic sector has good connectivity, things happen. They start to use it and start to utilize it in ways that we didn’t envision before. Coming with new innovative ideas and solutions.
But connectivity don’t stop with the researchers. So it needs to be well connected also outside of the research community. And otherwise we will just bring one submarine cable system in to a country and that will stop.
But, Tomas, to reflect on your question on the connectivity, so yes, this part of Nordic countries and we interconnect all the Nordic regions. And I think it was David, you mentioned earlier choice or resilience is important. And we fully agree. We have seen that having only a few connections is not sufficient. There are disturbances. There will be issues. And when you only have one or two or three connections, that can create an issue.
So the more connections we have both international and within international I would argue within Europe and intercontinental between Europe to other continents the better suited we are. The Bela cable is an excellent example where the NRA community came together to realize a connection from Lisbon to Brazil. And they are looking from a connectivity from Brazil to Africa strengthening their own resilience in this sector. This is a space where we are working collaboratively together. Japan has a connection to Europe. We are shaking hands and then we are exchanging that connectivity with each other.
It is all about making sure that we have more choices and more options and are not locked in in to a few of them because then that for me spells trouble in the future. Thank you.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Yes. So thank you very much, Valter. Filipe, I see the hand up. I will jump to you.
>> FILIPE BATISTA: I was clapping because I fully agree. That’s also one of the main reasons why we came with our concept and the topics that I was raising the need to better understand the connectivity, where do they land, where do they go, we need more connectivity.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: That’s a lot. Good use of interactive features. Encouraging everyone else to do the same. Thank you for highlighting. It is not about island and ocean, but it is about interconnectivity and ensuring the islands are interconnected.
But Filipe just mentioned some of the topics around international connectivity that regulators may want to look in to. As a regulator for quite a few years or decade, especially in Europe, it felt like sometimes we focused on domestic. But the topic of international connectivity it wasn’t a common topic. It was much more common working in other regions, from the middle East to the Caribbean and to the Pacific. How important is international connectivity for the regulators? Are they paying enough attention to that? Maybe this will be fixed by itself. And policymakers and regulators need to focus on domestic markets. What do you think?
>> DELPHINE BERNET-TRAVERT: I think Tomas, this is always the same. You have certain countries more happy than others to certain questions. And we have to remember that the topology and the autonomy of the EU country are very different. Some of the EU members are Iceland. So Iceland knows about this external connectivity, being connected with. The domestic connectivity has the same issue or topic. It is more seamless than other countries. You might think about that country that has highlands. Here again what is domestic connectivity, what is international connectivity, sometimes the line blurs. And with a comment made by Filipe, it clearly shows that ANACOM is the leading regulator in to looking in to this but not only.
This is true that international connectivity is more of a recent topic I would say compared to others. But it definitely connects to all the topics that the regulators are used to have which are connectivity as a global – in the global appreciation of the term. But also about how to interconnect, what are the resilience and cybersecurity dimensions also connected to the questions that we slightly touch upon before while discussing.
So a number of things are very familiar to the regulators and I think it is just about enlightening and creating the awareness about how strategic it is. And end up realizing that the very important segment of the connectivity has been left outside the discussion. So I think it is coming up as some, of course, are more aware than others as just described because of their geography. I see this being discussed this year among the regulators. And it has been generating a great deal of interest. And then awareness will not be left at the state of awareness. It will be pushed forward via different cooperation and certainly different more structured actions to be taken in the future.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: So thank you very much, Delphine. We need to pay for – we are starting. Still on the road. So maybe I see a few questions here. And maybe it is good to kind of bring in some more people. So first, I know there are questions in the chat but let’s pause on that. I know that there is a question from the onsite participants. Maybe you can bring them in and ask the question. I don’t know how that works. But use the microphone.
>> I’m in the FabLab. I will raise my arm so you can see me. My question is not necessarily infrastructure but how we can use data across countries and can leverage also some positive economic impacts. So we see initiatives such as the European space that allows us or foresees the possibility to use data across countries. And within the countries themselves, of course. And my comment which obviously my question was directed as a general comment, how do you foresee these infrastructures to be leveraging the users of data. This is important. And it is directly linked. Would you say these infrastructures are linked to target these matters or is it something that’s independent that we have been discussing so far? Because I do foresee this could be an end goal. What would be your opinion on that?
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you very much. I think it is very interrelated to the question on the chat as well about interoperability and use of data.
>> That was me.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Good. Okay. So I’m listening. That means I’m listening and reading well. I see David’s hand is up. We will start with David.
>> DAVID RINGROSE: Nice to see interoperability of physical and digital ways of putting your question. I think it is an important question. And it kind of responds also to what Filipe was doing about the EU looking at where the data is coming from, where it is going and where it needs to be used.
I think one of the first big initiatives that we did was the high performance computer programmer. And you see now that things have been rolled out, you just saw that Lumi in Finland was just opened because we looked. And we realized that 20 years ago Europe had a good position in HBC but now, you know, there is lots of small towns in China with bigger high performance computers or American universities. And we have maybe one in the top 20 in Europe.
So basically the idea was to put together funding from EU sources, from Member States and so on. And try to build back a kind of a network of high performance computers across Europe that cannot only deal with the kind of data that we are talking about which is essential for things like climate change, modeling and so on, building a digital replica of the earth and all these type of things. But also all the data, which if you look at the Bela cable we want the type of data we want coming in through the Bela cable would be Kobelus data from Latin America. It would be coming from the observatory in Chile. And that brings it close to Germany or Barcelona or close to Lumi. This is the data we want.
We want that to be treated on high performance computers in Europe. But also the HBC network gives us the ability to set out the ecosystem that enables researchers to do their research close to these new computers, whether it is in Maribor in Slovenia. This was an attempt to look at where data flows are coming from, but where we want them to come from and look ahead to the Networks and see how we can build on that. Then that helps the scientific and research community in Europe. And helps the scientific and research community as well. Then this is a type of direction we are trying to move in now.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you very much. Filipe.
>> FILIPE BATISTA: Thank you. Well, I fully agree with David first. And I’ll try to come with a concrete example. Because let’s look in to the Networks as one network. There are different purposes for the network. But the network is just one because it is connected. And it is digital. So we need to ensure, first of all, and this is the first example that connectivity speaks the same language. So there is a need to ensure interoperability. And I give you a concrete example and that’s why we wanted to create awareness. There is this big company that lays down cable from Africa to Europe. And this is the cable owner independently that the cable as other service providers because in our days cables were owned by consortiums or at least, they sell fiber pairs to other companies.
But let’s say that this company that lays down – the company is Google. If we don’t ensure that there is an open access to the landing station, meaning that all the service providers, all the telecom providers in Europe they can have free access to that station. And they can have access to the data that the cable is bringing, and if that doesn’t happen, what can happen is that the owner of the cable can pick one or two providers or telecom operators. And this will bring a major restructure to the market creating asymmetries. The other ones will be out of business because no one does phone calls anymore, at least using the fixed line. They use VoiP, other technologies.
So the first needs or first layer of the importance of interoperability. The second layer, and we are still a long way to go, but again my hands come together for the Commission with a push that they are doing. And I think David may confirm that there is a new act coming, targeting exactly this point. And we need to ensure interoperability between the different soft solutions that we have within Europe because it is not acceptable. And for me it is totally unacceptable that we have a digital identity in Europe so different from all the countries. It is not acceptable for me that I can use a digital solution in Portugal. But that digital solution doesn’t communicate with the digital solution of Italy or Greece or Denmark or whatever.
So there is these two layers and both regulators have a say on this field. I hope this new act will bring forward to tackle this problem.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you very much.
>> VALTER NORDH: There is a quick response. David, you mentioned the HBC and that’s one of the areas that we see in the academic, that 20 years ago the computer, the storage facilities, they were very tightly tied together. So you were a researcher. You were doing something. Your save the date was close to where you had the compute capacity. There is a lot more of movement of data. So you have your data and you do your work. And then you move it away to some other place. You store it at your University. And the data is moving much, much more. That puts a lot of requirements on the network, but it also puts requirements on that there is a legal support for moving the data around. And researchers don’t really care about – they are not nationally. They want to collaborate and research with the best researchers independently of where they are. And in this space I do believe there is more to be done in the legal space. I will leave that for another session.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: No. I think we have a very – a lot of topics to explore here from opening up the access to the cables and then how interoperability on those cables is working. You have to ensure that we can use these services across – (cutting out).
>> VALTER NORDH: A quick comment to Filipe also. In the NRA space, your example of the commercial providers has been something that the NRA and research and education sector has always been very careful about. For us it is important that the researchers has the best access to all the commercial providers, independently, if it is Google or Apple or anyone else. So the research and education space are always trying to have an open policy connection where all the cable systems that we bring in are openly connected to all the commercial providers and everyone else. So that we don’t get this lock-in effect because that’s detrimental.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you. There is another question from the floor. I would like to use the opportunity to have more interaction. We still have a few minutes to go. So please.
>> Two questions.
>> A couple of questions. So thank you very much. So I would like to ask with the upcoming Czech presidency, how do you envision the follow-up of the current developments in connectivity regarding territorial development? And this was mentioned also for the case of Iceland and remote territories as well as in terms of external partnerships. Do you envision any specific opportunities as the presidency is shifting to a Central European country? Thank you.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: So thanks a lot. We don’t have the representative of the Czech presidency in this panel, I think. So – but I don’t know if whether David or Delphine would like to comment where they see it. David, would you have some views on that?
>> DAVID RINGROSE: I think as far as I’m aware the priorities of the incoming Czech presidency on digital issues they are looking particularly at security, cybersecurity. I think the Czech Republic has a tradition of holding a cybersecurity summit in November every year. And the third one this year is going to be a presidency, looking at the importance of security. But an important issue this year, which is not too relevant here, which they are going to include a significant element in this about relations with the India Pacific because you will be aware we had a Summit, a ministerial meeting with the India Pacific in February where we were discussing how the global gateway could contribute to the development of connectivity in the India Pacific. We will be launching hopefully soon a connectivity initiative with ASEAN to see how we can improve connectivity in a number of areas, including digital, maybe cables, maybe regulatory issues and so on.
So that’s one area. In terms of the other digital priorities, I think cyberspace, finishing the work on the data act and so on are the main priorities there. Obviously, of course, the biggest priority of any upcoming presidency right now is to deal with the consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine both for Ukraine and the rest of the world, the food security issues, the dislocation of supply chains and so on. The whole supply chain issues matters as much in a digital era as it does for energy security and so on.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you for this overview. Reminding us there are big issues around the world happening. Even those big issues doesn’t mean that in digital it is not an important solution to the challenges. But Filipe, also from your side. Especially with the experience of the previous past presidency.
>> FILIPE BATISTA: Actually I had bilateral with our colleagues, the Czechs, to understand better the priorities they have for their presidency. And apart from what David already said, they are very ambitious on the digital side and the telecom side. There are two main take-aways that I will leave with you guys because I don’t want to speak for them. The first one will be presented or not, we don’t know yet, but possibly yes, the revision of the broadband cost reduction directive or maybe an act, we still don’t know what will be the aim of the Commission. In my opinion I was hoping for an act because we need to have concrete rules and strategies coming together in terms of connectivity.
Basically the directive, what it does is to promote better connectivity in Europe. So I mean it doesn’t make sense if we don’t have that on the table in a form of an act. But I know the Czechs are very keen on looking in to that. The second point, which is more related to us, they want to close the digital path, the path for the digital decade.
I think they will conclude that in the coming – in a coming month actually. They want to – they will start tomorrow actually or the day after tomorrow. And they hope to close it before the end of the first month of their presidency, which is a very important instrument for the development of international connectivity and also connectivity between Member States. Because it pushes for consortiums between Member States. And I think we have to work together in order to shift a better future in Europe in terms of connectivity and digitalization.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you. Delphine, from your perspective?
>> DELPHINE BERNET-TRAVERT: Yes. I think there is the – a lot of very good signs as been sitting in Brussels and the telecom sector. Very clear sign that have been proposed by the new Commission and by the EU institution in more global terms is the digital. Which means that everything will be connected with others. The telecom sectors should not be seen as a silo. It will bolt down and interact with other topics and other dimensions which are security. We mentioned it such as privacy. And it has been well illustrated by the latest digital doses in Brussels which were the platform regulation.
And it also shows by the fact that we saw the emergence of a digital diplomacy, I mean this also talks a lot to David’s job. And I think that it shows that there is a seamless connection between digital and the way we will operate the business from now on. Digitalization of our society, digitalization of our business. And I couldn’t agree more with Filipe. A digital agenda is about ambition for Europe. Somehow by having ambition with Europe and cooperation with other countries you will have digital in it. This is the awareness as we refer today as kind of an opening high moment also for the telecoms regulators, considering all this dimension. And they are actively debated. They will be because we work at IRG with bringing all those things in the form of a thinktank to the regulators.
And also to have a cooperation with the institution because I think we have to be a block. So if we want to have Europe leading somewhere, and not only Europe, but also talking to the partners we have and then we have Georgia here, but it is very close to the digital regulators to work together also, you know, reaching out to other international partners.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you very much. So we have five minutes to go. And I know there is a question in the room. A quick one. And we will see a quick reaction.
>> Yes. Hello. Thank you very much. I hope you can hear me well. Actually more than a question. It is more a comment. And I find it fascinating how we can drive the conversation and also the examples that were said. Italy, France, Germany, Greece, how these countries are in discussion. But there is a lack of discussion of what happens on the other side of Europe who also have a strong say and former Eastern European countries. They are trying to strive towards connectivity. And they are not even mentioned. I want to say more than a question, it was a comment because I kind of like feel my question was a response to what my colleague said. What the Czech Republic is doing right now it is pushing for an initiative which is called the three Cs initiative which despite being borne out of business. It is pushing for connectivity. And beyond this connectivity is a secure connectivity which pushes for interoperability in the entire region. And it actually aims to address as well this lack of investment, coming from the states and to push for investment in the private sector.
Which is one of my points of research at the moment. I wanted to comment as well, one of the speakers, Delphine, I cannot read the name, yes, you mentioned that we need to become a block, yes. But once again I would like to put forward my perspective in this sense, yes, but the inclusion of every single member and every single voice also took in to Eastern part.
A quick comment as well for Mr. Filipe Batista. Yes, we don’t only need concrete rules. We need also concrete actions. And I think there needs to be a higher emphasis on not only rules and regulations, but effective actions. And I say this with a strong determination. And I would like to have your point of view on this.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you very much. Myself and Delphine and being a member of the three Cs initiative, I welcome the Eastern Europe contribution. Rather than giving a specific response, like allowing this response to your question, because we have two minutes, so I would like to give everyone 30 seconds. And you could use it the way you want. Make an announcement. Maybe still highlight something on global gateway. Maybe Filipe and then Valter and I will move through.
>> FILIPE BATISTA: Thank you. Very quickly, just a quick reaction to what was commented now. I fully agree with the comments. Maybe I was not clear. The reason why we – I mentioned just a few Member States was just an example. But let me remind you that the Declaration that started this whole process was signed by everyone. Even landlocked countries like Austria, for instance. So not everyone is on board and must be on board.
Regarding the rules and the actions, probably I didn’t explain myself well. What we did before – what we had before was a directive on the broadband cost reduction. The directive is not binding to the Member States. They are supposedly to their national laws. So what I was saying is that instead of having a revision of this directive, we should have a regulation, an act in order to make happen concrete actions. Because without those rules, without the mandatory position that the Member States have to work together, probably they will not do it. And they will accommodate to national laws.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Let’s move.
>> FILIPE BATISTA: One announcement. I invite everyone to contact ANACOM and IRG because we are going to have a big conference towards the end of the year. And I encourage you to participate. And it will be in Sines where the beaches are wonderful and the fish is wonderful as well.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: I can attest to that. Then maybe Valter. I know we will –
>> VALTER NORDH: Quick comments, there are a lot of actions that the European Commission has done in this space of research and education, closing the digital divide in Europe. A lot of money, I think it is almost 53 million Euros have gone in to the last year to try to make sure that all of Europe, all of the research and academics in Europe is on a connected fiber. Basically offering at least 100 gig to the research and education institutions. This is a fantastic achievement. And that’s completed as we are speaking.
Next steps, looking forward to what can we do to improve connectivity forwards with the other – and then I will say with intercontinental connectivity. But I will stay there and we will continue the discussion.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you very much. Sorry, I’m being rude now. David.
>> DAVID RINGROSE: I think partnership is the way to go. I spend a lot of my time now discussing with other partners around the world. We were discussing digital connectivity with Australia this morning. We will be discussing with Japan very soon. We have the launch of a Working Group under the trained technology Council with the U.S. in a week or so. And I think everyone is focused on how we can improve secure digital connectivity. So it is an exciting time to be involved in the subject. And I look forward to coming back to you again. Maybe next year we can talk about the progress.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you. Delphine. Anything from you?
>> DELPHINE BERNET-TRAVERT: Yes, very quickly. Thanks again for the questions. I think that it goes without saying that in IRG we covered all the 37 NRAs. Working in partnership in an inclusive way is my daily job. Maybe I haven’t mentioned. For me it goes without saying. I also think that digital have impacted our life without us really realizing it. And we are living in an ecosystem. And I do believe just like David that partnership is about the definition of life onward. We are part of an ecosystem. And we should value connecting with others, not only with countries and regulators, but also with a business. Valter is a fantastic representative. It will give the rules and things we want to do. Before we take action we have to think together. And thinking is a really important part before acting. I am still promoting this. Thank you so much.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you. Eka, anything from you to finish us off?
>> EKA KUBUSIDZE: Thank you very much. I will be very quick. So, of course, we are living in a digital era. And we should like get together just to facilitate the process for bridging the digital divide. It doesn’t matter if it is a local or international one. We should do everything just to cover all the territory and to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas between a local level and between the regions or between the countries in an international level as well.
So we have a very, very ambitious digital agenda. If Georgia follows this agenda and, of course, it is very important just to think about the security while talking about the connectivity. Of course, the cybersecurity and credibility and, for example, data pro, et cetera, is very important. But it depends more or less on the digital skills. So we can provide the digital skills worldwide just to use our data very correctly. It is a very broad issue. And Georgia follows the European project on this direction.
>> TOMAS LAMANAUSKAS: Thank you. I really appreciate the discussions which may start a bit slow but ends up like very in the way we could continue for another day or two. So that’s great. I think there will be others as well. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Monroe from Portugal for being the brains and hands behind us. And thanks everyone here contributing and everyone so aptly participating both on the chat and on site for integrating those. Have a great event. It will be great discussions that will continue. Cheers. Bye everyone.
>> For the next session we are still waiting –