Youth Policy & Young People

An introductory guide to internet governance: The European Union’s work on internet governance

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As part of our introductory guide to internet governance, Andreas Karsten introduces key organisations and bodies working on the internet, communications and governance, including their overarching aims and where you can find more information. Organisations covered include the United Nations, Council of Europe, UNESCO, and civil society. In this article, Andreas introduces the work of the European Union on internet governance.

The European Union and Internet Governance
The European Union and Internet Governance

The work of the European Union on internet governance is strongly related by the overarching themes and policy initiatives around economic integration, the single market and the four fundamental freedoms of the Union -- the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people.

The Digital Agenda is one of the key priorities of the EU and is described as “Europe’s strategy for a flourishing digital economy by 2020.” Starting from the assumption that the free flow of online services is still blocked by too many barriers, the Digital Agenda aims to update the single market rules of the European Union for the digital era. It sets out and defines in total 101 actions for eight pillars:

Digital Single Market | Interoperability and Standards | Trust and Security | Fast and ultra-fast Access| Research and Innovation | Enhancing E-Skills | ICT for Social Challenges | International Dimensions

The progress by each pillar can be assessed in the “scoreboard”.

The2012 review of the Digital Agenda(“digital to do-list” published in December 2012) now sets out seven priorities:Creating a new broadband regulatory environment|New public digital service infrastructures through loans|Launching a “Grand Coalition on Digital Skills and Jobs”|Proposing EU cyber-security strategy and directive|Updating the EU’s Copyright Framework|Accelerating cloud computing through public sector buying power|Launching new electronics industrial strategy - an “Airbus of Chips”.

The European Commission has recently launched a number of public consultations to gather citizen’s views on issues surrounding digital governance: Contributions on the report “Media Freedom and Pluralism” (drawn up by the independent High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism, chaired by former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga) can be found here, comments and statements regarding the Green Paper “Preparing a Fully Converged Audiovisual World: Growth, Creation and Values” can be downloaded here.

The Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission have adopted a number of declarations, directives, recommendations and frameworks related to internet governance, among them:




  • Regulation COM(2013) 627 (pdf)of the EuropeanParliament and of the Councillaying down measuresconcerning the European singlemarket for electroniccommunications and to achievea Connected Continent -




The legislative and political work of the EU on digital governance is complemented by initiatives on media literacy, user rights, e-safety, e-health, e-government, e-inclusion as well as a wide range of research projects that are organised in four different strands.

The European Union’s work on internet governance is coordinated by the EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes(Commission’s term 2009-2014) and her team.

This article was originally published in September 2011 and is being continuously updated, last in October 2013.

Featured image credit:N3rdabl3