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Towards a global partnership in the information society

Summary: February 25, 2004: Towards a global partnership in the information society: way forward for the EU (Brussels)

The European Commission’s view of the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action agreed by UN Member States as a basis for a common approach to the Information Society are set out in a Commission Communication issued today. This Communication assesses the key results of the December 2003 Geneva World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). It states priorities and proposes ways to organise inputs for the second phase of the WSIS. That second stage will flesh out the Plan of Action with specific programmes and is scheduled to culminate in a WSIS summit meeting in Tunis from 16 to 18 November 2005.

Information and communication technology has moved beyond the realm of technology experts,” noted Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen. “The Summit recognised that the Information Society is an engine of economic and social development across the globe. Europe’s vision of an information society for all was widely endorsed by political leaders at the Geneva summit. It has three elements: the right regulatory framework for investment and user confidence, action by public authorities to make more use of information and communication tools in the services they provide for business and their citizens, and active support for research and innovation. We now have a common vision for the worldwide development of the Information Society. We also have a forum to tackle key issues such as how we can finance measures to bridge the digital divide and how to address the future governance of the internet”.

The WSIS was the first global event on the Information Society, and the Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action adopted at the Geneva Summit form the basis for an approach to the Information Society shared by all the Member States of the United Nations. It is inspired by “a common vision and understanding of the Information Society”. [1]

The texts are firmly grounded in existing international human rights provisions, with a clear reaffirmation of key human rights principles, and in particular the freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the media.

The Commission is committed to pursuing the inclusive, multilateral approach of the WSIS, including the solidarity principle. It will contribute actively to the working groups on Internet governance and financing, which have been set up under the authority of the UN Secretary General. These will be important contributions to the second phase of the Summit. In addition, the Communication proposes priorities for the Union’s follow up on the Plan of Action.

Attention should focus on several key priorities: e-Strategies and enabling regulatory frameworks, priority fields of application such as eGovernment, eHealth, eLearning and on other initiatives related to research and to education networks. These are areas where concrete action is possible to support the WSIS approach during 2004.

The European Commission is committed to making a success of the second phase of the WSIS – success which will inevitably be judged, in part, on progress achieved on issues such as freedom of speech and access to the information society for all those countries which have signed up to WSIS’ global vision, based on respect for human rights.



[1] Resolution 56/183 on the WSIS adopted by the UN General Assembly in January 2002


  • Ref: EC04-025EN
  • EU source: European Commission
  • UN forum: 
  • Date: 25/2/2004


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European Union Member States