Below is the relevant part of the EC new Internet Governance policy2 as it pertains to the Multistakeholder Model.


Multistakeholder processes in relation to the Internet have taken various forms ranging from simple networking to decisions with global impact such as those taken by ICANN and the specification setting processes of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). However, the fact that a process is claimed to be multistakeholder does not per se guarantee outcomes that are widely seen to be legitimate. The Commission continues to support a genuine multistakeholder approach for Internet governance, which can provide this legitimacy.

In order to further strengthen the multi-stakeholder model, the European Commission proposes that multistakeholder processes in relation to Internet policies must fulfil – beyond their consistency with fundamental rights – at least the following requirements:

  • Transparency. All stakeholders must have meaningful access to and information on the organisational processes and procedures under which the body operates. This should prevent in particular any proxy activity for silent stakeholders.

  • Inclusiveness and Balance. Those responsible for an inclusive process must make a reasonable effort to reach out to all parties impacted by a given topic, and offer fair and affordable opportunities to participate and contribute to all key stages of decision making, while avoiding capture of the process by any dominant stakeholder or vested interests.

  • Accountability. There should be clear, public commitments to give regular account to its stakeholders or independent supervisory bodies, and to allow any party to seek redress through effective dispute resolution mechanisms.

In addition, multistakeholder approaches should make appropriate efforts to counter the significant differences in the ability to participate across the various stakeholder groups to better ensure representativeness, e.g. by allowing remote participation by default. Further, it should be recognised that different stages of decision making processes each have their own requirements and may involve different sets of stakeholders. The Commission welcomes that some stakeholder groups are working on the development of multistakeholder guidelines and encourages further efforts. Sound multistakeholder processes remain essential for the future governance of the Internet. At the same time, they should not affect the ability of public authorities, deriving their powers and legitimacy from democratic processes, to fulfil their public policy responsibilities where those are compatible with universal human rights. This includes their right to intervene with regulation where required.

The European Commission is firmly committed to the multistakeholder model of Internet governance. The Commission calls upon stakeholders to further strengthen the sustainability of the model by making actors and processes more inclusive, transparent and accountable.

The Commission will work with stakeholders on the exchange of best practice.

Enabling inclusive participation

The broad range of Internet-related policy areas, together with its complex institutional framework, represents an obstacle to effective participation in Internet policy making for many stakeholders. This can contribute to a general sense of non-inclusion and disenfranchisement. In this context, the needs of persons with disabilities must also be taken into account.

Further efforts are also needed to expand multistakeholder structures in countries whose stakeholders are currently not sufficiently represented. The support of the European and North American Regional Internet Registries in the establishment of the African Regional Internet Registry is a good example.

One way to address this challenge is to facilitate access to forums and information by remote participation in meetings as a general rule. Further ahead, data mining and data visualization tools applied to openly available data and information on Internet policy and governance can enable broader stakeholder participation.

The Commission plans to develop an online platform, named Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO) through which such information can be channelled and made widely accessible. GIPO aims to be a global online resource for monitoring Internet policy-making, regulations and technology to help identify links between different forums and discussions, in order to overcome "policy silos" and help to contextualise information. This would make it easier for stakeholders with limited resources to follow, understand and engage with Internet governance and policy.

The Commission proposes to launch the technical development of the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO) in 2014 as a resource for the global community.

The Commission calls on stakeholders to engage in capacity building in order to establish and promote multistakeholder processes in countries and regions where such processes are not or less developed.

The Commission, together with recipients, will continue in 2014 to strengthen its development assistance programmes in support of media development and freedom of expression, as well as technological, policy and regulatory capacity-building related to the Internet.

There is some experience with operating a multistakeholder model for the formulation of Internet-related policies at the national level. In the EU, examples include the French Conseil national du numérique and the UK Multistakeholder Advisory Group on Internet Governance.

Outside the Union, the Brazilian Comitê Gestor da Internet is a prominent example where the multistakeholder process is used in the consultative preparation of policies pertaining to the Internet24. Similar approaches might be usefully employed at European level to minimize future fragmentation of Internet governance related policies, possibly building on the experience of existing networks.

This would respond to the need to have an early upstream consultation mechanism in place that is adapted to the fast pace of technological change and the resulting implications on Internet governance related policies, through a continuous dialogue with a wide and complex range of stakeholder groups. Another important function could be to help coordinate the activities of existing advisory bodies in the EU whenever relevant. The Commission needs to be able to engage in a meaningful manner with the diverse set of Internet stakeholders in Europe, also including grass-roots initiatives that form an integral part of the Internet ecosystem.

The Commission will launch a broad consultation, of civil society, the technical and academic communities and European industry, as well as the European Parliament and Member States, on how to ensure adequate and transparent multi-stakeholder involvement in the formulation of future European Internet governance policies.