31 January 2024

On 24 January, MEP Ivan Stefanec hosted our discussion on "The future of the electronic communications sector & connectivity", during which we took stock of how much progress has been achieved in terms of connectivity with regards to digital targets, how technology can help the future of networks and how setting the right EU agenda will be key to ensuring a framework that fosters growth, investment and innovation for the whole of Europe. MEP Stefanec was joined by the following speakers:

Renate Nikolay, Deputy Director General, DG CNECT, European Commission
Isabelle Mauro, Director General, GSOA
Maarit Palovirta, Senior Director Regulatory Affairs, ETNO
Tonko Obuljen, BEREC Chair 2024

The future of the electronic communications sector & connectivity

Ivan Stefanec MEP's speech focused on the paramount importance of enhancing connectivity across the European Union to meet the ambitious goals set for the Digital Decade. He detailed the need for both gigabit connectivity for all EU households and comprehensive 5G coverage. Mr Stefanec highlighted the European Commission's planned investments in digital infrastructure, emphasizing the necessity to attract significant private investment to make these goals achievable. He argued for the creation of a regulatory and investment-friendly environment as crucial for advancing the EU's digital transformation and competitiveness on the global stage.

Renate Nikolay's contribution to the discussion centered on the critical need for Europe to accelerate its digital infrastructure development to avoid falling behind in the global digital economy. She underscored the ambitious nature of the EU's digital targets and the significant challenges ahead. Ms Nikolay stressed the importance of fostering technological innovation and providing clear regulatory frameworks to encourage private sector investment and innovation in the digital realm. Her speech called for greater integration of the digital market to facilitate this progress.

Isabelle Mauro spoke from the perspective of the satellite industry, shedding light on the transformative impact satellite technology can have on overcoming connectivity challenges. She discussed the rapid growth and investment within the satellite sector, advocating for policies that recognize and support the integration of satellite technologies into the broader connectivity strategy. Ms Mauro emphasized the satellite industry's role in bridging the digital divide and called for supportive regulatory environments to leverage this technology fully.

Maarit Palovirta's address represented the telecommunications operators, focusing on the need for innovation in network technology and the dynamics of competition introduced by new technological advancements. She highlighted the critical need for regulatory reforms to encourage investment and innovation within the telecom sector. Ms Palovirta argued for a streamlined telecom regulatory framework and the completion of a single market to bolster Europe's position as a competitive force in the digital age.

Tonko Obuljen, as the new BEREC chair, outlined the regulatory body's priorities, which include enhancing connectivity, supporting the development of digital markets, and ensuring the security and resilience of networks. He emphasized the collective effort required to achieve the objectives of the Digital Decade, highlighting the need for a regulatory approach that balances the encouragement of competition and innovation with securing the digital future for Europe.