2022 turned out to be quite a challenging year, but CENTR has proven – as many times before – to be robust and well-prepared. The Annual CENTR Meeting which took place last week in Brussels gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on this busy year.
For the first time in the history of CENTR, members accepted a very difficult decision to suspend CCTLD RU. One of CENTR's most important objectives is to provide a forum for the discussion of policy and security matters that impact ccTLDs. That means that CENTR needs to provide a trusted and safe environment for each and every member. The Board unanimously approved the resolution to safeguard the integrity of our trusted environment that enables the collaboration and the sharing of sensitive information. The suspension of a member is an extreme action and it was taken with great caution. It's almost impossible not to take into account that the suspension, though it targeted an organisation, affected people, our colleagues with whom we have been working together for many years and who have shaped CENTR with us, contributing great ideas and becoming our friends.
In addition to this, CENTR and all its members have been facing financial pressure due to extremely high inflation caused by the current geopolitical situation.
Finally, the policy pressure on ccTLD operations is increasing, but CENTR's voice is getting more and more heard and recognized, and we can be proud of the recent developments. There were good adjustments in the NIS2 text and we achieved very promising progress and GI regulations.
Against this backdrop it is clear that the past year has been challenging, but CENTR and its members have surmounted these obstacles and are thriving. On November 14 the General Assembly met in Brussels for the 2022 Annual CENTR Meeting (ACM) to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the near future.
At its offsite meeting in May in Ljubljana, the Board prepared a 2023 strategic plan and worked on CENTR's new vision and mission statements. The results were shared with CENTR staff who provided very valuable insights. During the now already traditional summer strategic webinars, the 2023 plan, vision and mission, and budget were discussed with interested members, leading to the addition of fruitful discussions, valuable input and new ideas. I'm proud that CENTR members supported all the proposed decisions.
Below I wish to share some of the most important elements of the CENTR 2023 strategic plan:
Due to unexpectedly high inflation, CENTR's budget needed to be readjusted and members supported a 10 % rise in membership fees for 2023.
The number of actors in the DNS ecosystem is growing fast. CENTR is not _the_ interlocutor for the DNS and domain name topics anymore, there are many more: ICANN org and contracted partners, the IP industry, ... We have therefore prepared a new CENTR external engagement strategy, that will continue to strengthen CENTR's voice in Europe.
With the pandemic finally calming down, CENTR is returning to “normal” and focusing on its core activities: the exchange of information and the fostering of open discussions. We will work on strengthening the Working Groups with additional staff support.
CENTR also plans to develop an EU TLD ISAC which – following our long-term plan – will put more focus on cybersecurity and allow us to become even more present as a community.
In the afternoon of the ACM, CENTR members welcomed DG-JUST representatives and Consumer Protection Collaboration (CPC) national representatives. The CPC Regulation is awaiting a review in 2023, and so this was an opportunity for all present to get to know each other, exchange experiences with CPC implementation, present some good national practices and learn from each other, trying to agree on some basic solutions to serve our common goal: consumer protection.
The message from CENTR members was clear: we have already implemented many measures for ensuring data accuracy, which also lead to less fraud under our respective ccTLDs. There are many different but efficient models of cooperation between national CPC authorities and ccTLDs, and we stressed the importance of taking measures at DNS level only as a measure of last resort. ccTLD registries are at the core of the public internet, safeguarding its security and stability, and actions at DNS level could threaten its stability and are often disproportionate.
Before I was a Board member I was aware that CENTR staff was doing a very good job, every one of them in their field of expertise. But over the last almost three years I've been so much more impressed. There's so much work behind the scenes that we as members don't get to see, but is no less important for the functioning of the organisation. I now know for sure, dear Peter, Polina, Lydia, Patrick, Louise, and Andreia, you do an amazing job. Thank you so much!
This was the first mask-less meeting in nearly 3 years, and it was great to see broad smiles and hug friends again. Members need a community more than ever, and especially in this time of financial instability, growing policy pressure, and recession working together makes even more sense. It means sharing scarce resources: people, experience, knowledge, and costs. The next time when you think you cannot afford to participate in a CENTR project or Working Group because you as a ccTLD do not have enough resources – stop for a while and think again. Only if we, CENTR members, put some effort and time into our common goals, will we be able to enjoy the results.