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World Radiocommunication Conference 2003

The purpose of the World Radiocommunication Conference is to update frequency allocation decisions and other conditions of use of the radio spectrum at world level, in order to avoid harmful interference between the many wireless services operating in all countries of the world. This communication examines within a Community framework the items on the agenda open to negotiation at the 2003 Conference. Its aim is also to strengthen Europe's negotiating position by establishing priorities and objectives in accordance with the interests of the European Union (EU).

ACT

Commission communication of 14 April 2003 to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - The World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 [COM(2003) 183 final].

SUMMARY

Every three years the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, holds a World Radiocommunication Conference. The Conference 2003 (WRC-03) was held in Geneva from 9 June to 4 July 2003. The Commission participated as a delegation without voting rights. In this capacity, the Commission will endeavour to support decisions which are in line with relevant Community policies and serve commercial and general interests in the European Union (EU).

Within the ITU, the European authorities negotiate on a national basis. However, insofar as national interests converge on many points, EU Member States have chosen to develop their technical positions together within the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) (1). The development of European technical positions within CEPT will certainly strengthen the EU's position at WRC-03. However, these positions should also be coordinated at European level, before and after the conference, in accordance with the principles set out in the Community Decision on the radio spectrum.

COMMUNITY POLICIES RELEVANT TO WRC-03

Information society

Transition to the information society is essential if Europe is to fully benefit from digital technologies and the internet. This is why the Community is encouraging the development of applications and content which will enable all Europeans to be part of the information society. In establishing a new regulatory framework for electronic communications, the EU has moved a step further towards supporting a world-class communications and broadcasting infrastructure.

Audiovisual policy

Audiovisual media play a key role in the transmission of social and cultural values; clear public interests are therefore at issue. For example, broadcasting services must continue to have access to the resources they need, including radio spectrum resources.

Transport

The Commission is working on the development of an integrated transport system, including notably maritime safety and air transport. In this context, the objective of the Single European Sky is to optimise air traffic management and air safety in order to satisfy all airspace users. The achievement of this objective essentially depends on the availability of radio spectrum. The satellite navigation programme Galileo is another important element of common transport policy. Like all radio services, in order to operate, Galileo needs a sufficient number of radio spectrum frequencies protected from harmful interference and employable without too many operational constraints.

Coordination of civil protection

The aim of Community cooperation in the field of civil protection is to improve the protection of people, the environment and goods in the event of natural or man-made disasters. In 2001, the Council adopted a decision (Decision 2001/792/EC) establishing a Community mechanism to facilitate reinforced cooperation in civil protection assistance interventions. It is known that the coordination of joint European interventions would be improved by the interoperability of communications equipment fostered by harmonised spectrum.

Single European Space

The Galileo project and the GMES initiative (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) are specific examples of cooperation within the framework of initiatives taken, at European level, in the space sector. An adequate supply of spectrum is clearly essential for a vibrant European space sector.

Research and development

All technologies covered by the WRC are supported by research and development activities. European research funding continues to promote essential fields using wireless technologies. Access to a radio spectrum harmonised at European and world level will remain an essential element of these activities and will be an important objective for research projects.

THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY'S STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES FOR WRC-03

The WRC-03 agenda included a number of questions relating to Community policies. The main Community objectives were:

  • to maintain frequency allocation acquired at WRC-2000 by IMT-2000 ("International Mobile Telecommunications for the year 2000" - 3rd generation mobile communications) and confirm the conditions of use of the spectrum for the Galileo radionavigation services;
  • to progress towards regionally and globally harmonised frequencies for PPDR (Public Protection and Disaster Relief) system, in order to help rescue and emergency teams communicate with each other;
  • to support the creation of other wireless infrastructures in order to encourage competition for the benefit of consumers - in accordance with the eEurope initiative. In particular, the frequency bands determined at European level for radio local area networks (RLAN) should be harmonised at world level.

RELATED ACTS

Conference results

Commission communication of 19 November 2003 to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Results of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03) [COM(2003) 707 - Not published in the Official Journal]

At the end of the Conference, the Commission stressed the positive results of the negotiations since, from a Community standpoint, the main objectives of WRC-03 had been achieved. The harmonisation at world level of the conditions of use of RLAN broadband systems and the long term protection of the Galileo satellite navigation system were among the most notable successes.

This communication presents a detailed analysis of the decisions and:

  • highlights the effects of the results of the Conference on EU policies;
  • assesses the extent to which the EU's objectives for WRC-03 have been achieved;
  • defines the type of regulatory measures the EU should take as a follow-up to WRC-03;
  • examines Community interests which could be at stake at the next conference (WRC-07);
  • analyses the negotiating process at WRC-03.

Implementing measures

Some WRC-03 results require work to begin on implementing measures, notably concerning harmonisation of the availability and conditions of use of the radio spectrum. Some work had already begun before WRC-03. Action will be taken on the basis of the mechanisms provided for in Decision 676/2002/EC ("Radio Spectrum Decision"), involving consultation of the Radio Spectrum Committee (RSC) and associating CEPT expertise. The Radio Spectrum Policy Group has been asked to help establish the link between various Community policy objectives and the main guidelines for Community radio spectrum policy.

 
Last updated: 31.03.2004

See also

Further information available on the ITU site.

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