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02/16/2016 - 06:00 PM

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Lobbying and Interest Groups: Telecom Italia's role

Transparency in relations between public and private institutions is a key factor for the proper functioning of modern society: lobbyists that put pressure on institutions on behalf of individual companies are a democratic resource if they act in the general public interest, but they should not become a source of privilege.

Transparency International has measured the state of health of democracy in 19 European countries, applying 10 principles of integrity drafted by the OECD. The results show that in Europe the transparency score is 26%, whereas in Italy it remains at 11% due to lack of specific legislation (that exists in Germany, Poland and the European Parliament).

Telecom Italia's commitment

Therefore, as far as strategic sectors such as telecommunications are concerned, responsibility for transparency and correctness mainly lies with companies themselves, who need to take action to ensure proper functioning of democracy.

Telecom Italia has decided to assume this responsibility by establishing a code of ethics for its activities, whereby the achievement of company goals is always linked to an improvement in the life quality of citizens.

Ongoing and continuous dialogue

The first step is ongoing collaboration with national institutions (including Parliament, Public Administrations and Ministries), local institutions (Regional Governments, Provincial Governments and Municipalities) and European and international institutions (European Commission, Parliament, Council of the European Union, OECD, UN, ITU, etc.) in order to provide comprehensive information about company activities and how the company manages its own interests.

The opportunity for dialogue with the political world is essential, for example: parliamentary hearings, necessary for highlighting the guidelines of an industrial strategy; monitoring and supporting measures in the form of parliamentary initiatives on issues of interest related to economic-financial and fiscal matters, privacy, safeguarding competition, consumer protection and merging technological media.

Telecom Italia has recently supported institutions in national legislative activities related to the Government's action plan regarding strategies for developing broadband and ultra-broadband, and for digital growth. Special attention has been paid to measures that simplify regulations for laying optical fibre cables, for tax exemption and easier access to credit for investments, with a view to supporting the investment plans of TLC operators and achieving the goals of the European Digital Agenda.

At the local level an ongoing dialogue is taking place with organisations and their representative associations (ANCI - National Association of Italian Municipalities - and UPI - Union of Italian Provinces). In this respect, Telecom Italia's support is largely in the field of electronic communications (with special reference to developing networks) and corporate business. The aim is to solve problems that arise and to play a key role in providing local legislation in accordance with the national framework of reference.

To manage relations with local organisations, Telecom Italia has set up a central department entrusted with gathering information about the expectations of local institutions and with finding the best solutions.

Dialogue with consumers and citizens

For many years, Telecom Italia has had continuous and direct relations with consumer associations that are important contacts. Such collaboration is an important channel of information essential to gaining increased knowledge of customer needs.

Relations between Telecom Italia and 18 consumer associations were formalized with a Protocol of Agreement in 1989, containing the guidelines required to face and solve issues that regard customers. This collaboration led to the Conciliation Procedure a free tool that Telecom Italia makes available to its customers for any out-of-court settlement of disputes.

Telecom Italia is also a founding member of Consumers' Forum, a non-profit organisation that involves leading Consumer Associations and a large number of enterprises.

Relations with Trade Associations (i.e. Confindustria - Italian General Industry Federation - in all its forms at a central, provincial and sector-related level) are crucial for all industrial policy issues. In this case, relational and lobbying activities are aimed at ensuring the management and coordination of relations with associations and representational activities for Telecom Italia and the Companies in the Group with regard to Business Organisations (Confindustria, provincial industrial Unions, national trade Associations, regional Associations, and national sector-related Federations), and at monitoring all actions related to business development and protecting the Group's interests in the areas of economics, legislation, trade unions and labour.

Towards shared economic growth: international relations

In Europe, Telecom Italia was one of the first Italian companies (along with Confindustria and the Tuscany Regional Government) to understand the importance of establishing networks and cooperating effectively, sharing information and creating a dialogue between public and private institutions on issues of mutual interest.

Thanks to its representative office based in Brussels, Telecom Italia regularly interacts with European institutions (the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, and BEREC - Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) in order to establish regulatory and legislative guidelines for the electronic communications sector (e.g. the Digital Agenda).

Telecom Italia plays a leading role in evaluating the legislative and regulatory measures, and the policies proposed by EU institutions. In this respect, Telecom Italia is involved in identifying the measures that could be useful to the electronic communications sector and in encouraging procedures to adopt such regulations. For instance, the company's contribution concerns broadband and ultra-broadband, access to infrastructures, access to content, the responsibility of online service providers for illegal content, consumer protection, etc.

The Group's activities also include initiating smooth bilateral relations with representatives of EU institutions and with diplomatic representatives of national institutions and authorities; actively participating in a series of meetings with multi-stakeholders (workshops, hearings and meetings), organised by institutions, companies, associations and academies; ongoing dialogue with trade associations within the European Union (ETNO - European Telecommunications Network Operators Association, GSMA, Business Europe, Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue, etc.).

At the international level Telecom Italia monitors the activities of several international organisations that play a key role in establishing policies and regulations for the electronic communications sector, such as the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the ITU (International Telecommunication Union).

Because in its correct and pluralist form lobbying can and must be a tool for economic growth. For a company like Telecom Italia, with a strong focus on investments (e.g. the strategic topic of developing the digital infrastructure and broadband), the certainty of rules, stability and support for institutions are fundamental to the sustainability of such investments.

  • Central national institutions: Parliament, Government, Ministries, Public Administration;
  • local institutions and their representative associations: Regions, Provinces, Municipalities, "Comunità montane", the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI), the Union of Italian Provinces (UPI);
  • the Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM), the Italian Competition and Market Authority (AGCM) and the Italian Data Protection Authority;
  • Consumers Associations;
  • European and international institutions: the European Commission and its regulation committees, the Council and the European Parliament, BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication), the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development);
  • the United Nations (UN): particularly the Global Compact, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and the other UN agencies (e.g. UNHCR)

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