This month, Policy World questions Franceso Liberatore, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs, LLP. Chair of the IIC’s new Brussels Chapter
Q. You and your colleagues at Squire Patton Boggs – with the support of other IIC Members – are launching a Chapter in Brussels with an inaugural meeting in April. How will this Chapter add to the communications policy ecosystem there?
A. Brussels is at the heart of European public policy and regulation. Over the last number of years especially, we have seen an increasing number of significant regulations emanating from Brussels that impact the wider international community. In addition, with the advent of new technology – from the Internet of Things to autonomous vehicles – there are a growing number of issues that communications professionals have to grapple with. Given the many EU legislations that will impact the digital ecosystem for decades to come, the formation of the IIC Brussels Chapter could not be more opportune.
Squire Patton Boggs had a long history in Brussels – since the late 1970s – and has therefore been able to monitor these developments and progression. Because of this, we thought it was essential to start a Brussels Chapter in order to amass the wealth of knowledge in Brussels on such issues, feed into international discussions taking place across the IIC, and importantly to provide valuable insight and thought-leadership to EU and Brussels-based institutions on pertinent issues.
Q. What do you think the Chapter under the aegis of the IIC can provide that other organisations will not?
A. The IIC is a truly unique association and enables an open, expert-based and non-partisan dialogue that shapes the policy agenda for the telecommunications, media and technology industries. Given the IIC’s essential role in facilitating discussions between a network of senior industry and professional leaders that help to shape the public policy agenda, the Brussels Chapter can provide another important stone in its foundation and continued growth.
Q. What are the topics you are launching with? What is the planned programme over this coming year?
A. I recently attended the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In years past, the most prominent technology would have been smart phones but now it’s smart cars! This is clearly an issue of great importance, with even the European Automotive Telecommunications Alliance recently launching a roadmap of new automated driving projects across the EU.
Given the interest in this topic, our first planned programme is on connected and autonomous vehicles – we will call them “smart cars”. This will start as a three-part series covering a range of subjects such as telecommunications and spectrum aspects, data protection and privacy, intellectual property, and liability issues, among others. We are looking to hold the first of these events in April on the topic of “What is the role of the telecom, service providers and digital platforms in the development of Smart Cars?” The second, planned for June, will consider the legal issues and regulatory roadblocks to rolling out smart cars. This series will culminate in a half-day workshop at the IIC Annual Conference in October, which fortuitously will take place in Brussels.
In addition, we plan to expand the Chapter to cover key EU policy areas that are currently being discussed in Brussels. Given the significant changes on the horizon in the EU regulatory framework and EU competition policy that will affect the broader ICT sector, these will be relevant to a wide range of stakeholders across Europe.
Q. How can people find out more and take part in the meetings?
A. Our Brussels Chapter’s meetings are open to everyone and will be accessible on our Chapter page on the IIC website.
One thing we hear time and time again from our members and other delegates is that they value IIC as a collegiate forum to build relationships with international regulators and industry peers. The informal discussions that take place at IIC events help to support their decision-making on forthcoming matters. We intend to continue in this spirit. I hope many colleagues across Europe and based in Brussels will join our conversation and contribute to the rich debate that we look to facilitate throughout the coming years.
Q. You will be taking part in the IIC’s Forum in Doha in March and the IIC will hold its main annual events in Brussels in October (the International Regulators Forum and the 48th IIC Annual Conference) – how does the global nature of the IIC sit within the National Chapter framework?
The Middle East is an interesting region for many reasons. The mobile market is expanding rapidly subscription terms, largely due to the expansion of the migrant workforce, leading to untapped demand for advanced data services, particularly among businesses. There is also a growing interest in video content, boding well for service diversification strategies, with will have knock-on effects on marketing and digital consumption. While many of these developments have been welcomed, they also provide challenges to regulators and policy-makers. To a great extent, this reflects a global trend. The Doha Forum will therefore discuss global themes like how competition policy, regulation and investment can be reconciled.
The Brussels Chapter is perhaps more than a National Chapter and more like a Regional Chapter given that Brussels is at the very heart of the EU. Indeed, we fully expect input from different nations across Europe and their unique challenges on how to reconcile the need to promote competition and investment through regulation. We will seek to explore how these issues are dealt with by EU institutions and what lessons can be learned for other countries and regions.
Francesco Liberatore is a partner at Squire Patton Boggs and advises clients on all aspects of the application of communications and competition law. Mr Liberatore’s practice includes bringing and defending all types of regulatory and competition disputes before Ofcom, the Competition and Markets Authority and the European Commission, as well as managing internal investigations, dawn raids, and counselling on compliance issues and various commercial agreements.
He has authored several legal publications, including the UK Chapter of the International Telecommunications Law handbook (Juris Publishing).
Mr Liberatore has been listed as a leading practitioner in Chambers UK, Chambers Global and The Legal 500 UK.
Policy World questions Franceso Liberatore, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs, LLP. Chair of the IIC’s new Brussels Chapter
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