The key questions asked and answered during the fourth session of the day were weather there is need and desire for a European IGF, what its mandate and objectives should be, how its work should be organised.
Most contributors to the discussion agreed that a European IGF is more than necessary. It should take place prior to the Global IGF so that participants have the chance to formulate their messages and make a proper European contribution to the overall debate.
The European IGF would be useful for at least two reasons. First, it would be a platform to share European IG good practices and identify European IG problems. Second, it would give a chance to small countries to express their positions and share their problems. In this way their voice will be heard. Eventually, Europe will present at the Global IGF the problems of both developed and countries in transition. This will contribute to drawing a broader picture of IG problems around the world.
In terms of the nature of the forum, the participants in the session agreed that the European IGF should include national initiatives, reflect national diversity, preserve its multistakeholder approach but be more inclusive in terms of civil society opinion. What is more, it should reflect as much as possible the concerns of Europe. One of the suggestions was to preserve the non-decision making nature of the organisation. The two main goals of the forum should be that participants have the chance to share experience and best practices and try to influence the agenda of IGF. That is why it would be important that the European IGF has its goals which it should aim at achieving.
Probably the toughest questions from the session were how the work of a European IGF should be organised and how it should be financed. Some of the participants suggested that the Council of Europe should provide a permanent secretariat of the organisation. The CoE representatives confirmed that this would be possible. The Swiss OFCOM and the Spanish government representatives also confirmed they could support the initiative. Still, no further financial models have been suggested. A clear financing model could be an obstacle towards the non-problematic functioning of the forum, which is why more attention should be paid to this issue in the future.
What I think is that a European IGF is a necessary one. It will help actors formulate their messages so that they can deliver them in a clear way and at several voices at the Global IGF. Still, it is necessary to elaborate an efficient financial model. It is not to forget that public money should be spend carefully and for this purpose the financial model should be very precise. A second issue which should be seriously considered is the necessity to act more. It is true that IGF’s nature is one which encourages discussions and does not expect results. Still, it is important to be more active in making things happen and not only talking about what should be done.