The IEEE European Public Policy Initiative formed three working groups in 2014 for standards, information and communications technology (ICT), and energy composed of volunteers with a wide variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise. They are now busy developing statements on technical policies with the aim of informing policymakers about key issues in their respective domains. (These position statements are the expression of the working group members and do not necessarily reflect the views of IEEE or its organizational units.)
To actively engage with the European policy community, the groups have adopted the tradition of inviting leaders in their fields to join sessions during quarterly in-person meetings. Marie Donnelly, the European commission director for new and renewable sources of energy, energy efficiency, and innovation, addressed the energy working group last September. Her points about the European energy market and the challenges Europe faces in this area were insightful; however, her motivation to address the group was also in part driven to obtain information from IEEE. At the end of the meeting, she requested technical statements on several topics, including renewables and solar power.
A series of speakers also addressed the ICT working group. Last year, Megan Richards, principal advisor for DG Communications Networks, which is spearheading the Digital Agenda of the EU, spoke about the evolution of Internet governance. At the most recent meeting in April, two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) joined for part of the program. The first speaker was Marietje Schaake, a well-known advocate in the European Parliament on digital consumer rights issues and one of the principal drivers of setting up the Digital Single Market Inter Group in this institution. She shared her views on many topics, but specifically said that on net neutrality, the EU needs a rating system of what a specialized service is, underlining the need that this has to be defined upfront so that it is clear for all.
All meetings to date with external stakeholders have proved fruitful, as it has been made apparent how keen policymakers are to cooperate and engage with IEEE—an enthusiasm the organization hopes will prove long-lasting. With the 10 papers on technical policies currently under development by all three groups—some of which are in their final stages—those of us participating in these conversations can only anticipate that IEEE’s engagement with EU policymakers is bound to strengthen in the coming weeks and months ahead.