The EADT calls on the European Commission to recognise digital networks as strategic infrastructures


The EADT has submitted its comments in response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the White Paper – How to master Europe’s digital infrastructure needs? Our contributions revolve around one concept: the economic dimension of digital sovereignty which, as we have always advocated, must be a priority for the EU powers.

Our analyses and recommendations are based on a comprehensive view that considers digital infrastructure not only as a technical element but as a public good that is essential for the economic, technological and social development of the European Union.

First, we firmly believe that digital networks should be seen as public goods. These infrastructures provide services of general interest, essential for the economic, technological and social development of the EU. Ignoring this point of view, and taking an inadequate perspective on the development of these networks and on the future law on digital networks, could contribute to increasing economic, social and territorial inequalities in the EU. Digital networks play a strategic role in social, economic and territorial cohesion, strengthening citizenship and the European social model. The deployment of these networks must give this the utmost consideration.

In addition, we want to highlight the crucial importance of securing public and private investments for the rapid deployment of digital network infrastructures, including 5G. These investments must be backed up by appropriate European public policies that are shared by the national governments. It is essential to ensure, and make a commitment to, the necessary investments for rapid deployment of digital network infrastructures. The vision for a Digital Single Market, as mentioned in the White Paper, is welcome, including a review of the current regulatory framework for electronic communications in the EU.

In regard to concerns about market fragmentation in the EU, we believe that the perspective of the White Paper is incomplete. It is not enough to increase scale and bet on the creation of “European champions” in various industrial areas. In order to achieve an efficient digital single market, the national markets must first work properly. Coordination between Member States and harmonising spectrum allocation are crucial to avoid further fragmentation that would only delay the integration of the European market.

It is clear to us: There can be no real European digital sovereignty as long as there are 27 national telecommunications markets with their own rules. We advocate for greater harmonisation and coordination at the European level in order to achieve a unified connectivity market. The current configuration of national markets restricts the competitiveness of operators at the European level.

For the EADT, the problem of a lack of technological competitiveness in Europe is evident, which is due to the excessive dominance of a few non-European companies. We support the Commission’s actions to regulate this area and defend the position that these large non-EU platforms should contribute financially to European digital network infrastructures. The large online platforms in the US and China already control a significant portion of the internet ecosystem, which has damaged competition and technological competitiveness in the European Union. EU public policies related to digital network infrastructures must take into account the causes that have led to this competitive deficit. If the EU does not get serious about this, the result will be to perpetuate our dependence, putting our digital sovereignty at risk.

It is essential to understand that digital networks must be strategic infrastructures. They are essential not only to improve the efficiency of the internal market in its digital connectivity dimension, but also to strengthen the strategic autonomy of the European Union and enable business development and innovation. In the current geopolitical context, it is vital to reduce dependence on non-European actors across all the digital services sector.

In the full text of our comments we delve more deeply into these and other key issues, offering a detailed and informed view on how Europe can address its digital infrastructure needs to ensure a fair, competitive and sovereign digital transition.

Download the full text of the EADT’s comments on the White Paper – How to master Europe’s digital infrastructure needs?