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Latvia

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(1997) 2005 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1998) 704 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 506 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [SEC(2001) 1749 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1405 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1203 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission did not foresee any major problems in the field of research and technological development. With regard to telecommunications, however, the Commission considered that Latvia would have difficulties in reaching the standard of the acquis in the medium term, as progress with legislative reform was slow and there were still obstacles to the effective liberalisation of the market. The Commission noted the Latvian Government's commitment to take account of the information society in its own departments.

The November 1998 Report confirmed that Latvia had continued to make efforts in the fields of research and technological development and the information society. Attention has been given to research and technological development in the National Programme for the Adoption of the acquis. However, further efforts had been needed to align Latvian legislation with the telecommunications acquis.

The October 2002 Report noted the progress made by Latvia in the field of research and technological development, in particular the adoption of Priority Directions for financing fundamental and applied research for the period 2002 to 2005. The Report also stated that Latvia had made good progress in aligning with the acquis in the area of telecommunications and had also improved its administrative capacity.

The 2003 Report notes that Latvia is respecting some of the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the field of telecommunications and postal services. It must step up its efforts to transpose and implement the acquis in the telecommunications sector, notably by establishing reasonable interconnection conditions and unbundled access to the local loop.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

Research and Technological Development activities (RTD) at Community level, as provided for in Article 164 of the Treaty (former Article 130G) and the Framework Programme (Article 166, former Article 130I), are aimed at improving the competitiveness of European industry and the quality of life, as well as supporting sustainable development and contributing to the development of other Community policies.

The Europe Agreement between the European Union and Latvia provides for cooperation in these areas, notably through the participation of the Associated State in the Framework Programme. The White Paper on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market of the Union (1995) includes no direct measures in this field.

The objective of Community telecommunications policy is to eliminate obstacles to the efficient operation of the internal market in equipment, services and telecommunications networks, to open foreign markets to Community enterprises and to make modern services available to citizens and enterprises in the European Union. These objectives must be achieved by harmonising standards and conditions for the provision of services, liberalising the terminal equipment, services and networks markets and adopting the necessary regulatory measures.

The Europe Agreement stipulates that improvements in standards and practices in the field of telecommunications and postal services, and the standardisation, regulation and modernisation of the infrastructure to Community level must be achieved through cooperation. The White Paper places emphasis on the approximation of rules, networks and services and on the measures to be taken gradually to liberalise the sector.

EVALUATION

Research and technological development

In the field of research and technological development, Latvia has been participating, since October 1999, in the Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002) as well as in the 5th Euratom Framework Programme of research and training activities (1). The role of research and technological development in reinforcing industrial competitiveness is mentioned in the National Programme for the Adoption of the acquis. In November 2001, Latvia adopted Priority Directions in science for financing fundamental and applied research for the period 2002 to 2005, covering information technology, organic synthesis and bio-medicine, material sciences, forestry science and wood technology. Latvia's expenditure on research and development as a percentage of GDP remains very low and still needs to be increased significantly in order to come closer to the EU average. Latvia expressed interest in being associated with the Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006).

Telecommunications

With regard to telecommunications, the new Law adopted in November 2001 provides the legal basis for full liberalisation of the telecommunications market as of January 2003. The Law aims at aligning Latvian legislation with most of the acquis requirements. Amongst other things, the Law provides for the expiry, in January 2003, of the exclusive rights granted to the national operator Lattelekom, the monopoly provider, regarding the provision of telecommunications services through the fixed network.

The penetration of portable telephone services has reached 30%There are two GSM operators, but UMTS licences have yet to be issued. Fixed network penetration reached 32% and is now static. Network modernisation and price rebalancing should be continued.

A telecommunications standardisation technical committee has been created to implement European telecommunications standards and facilitate reliable interaction between networks. Certification procedures for telecommunications and radio communications equipment were amended in August 1998 to comply with the requirements of Community directives and facilitate market development. The communications directorate within the transport ministry became an ETSI member in November 1998.

Regarding the regulatory framework, Latvia has transposed most of the core norms of the existing EC telecommunications acquis. The new Law on telecommunications transposes a number of acquis-related provisions, including provisions on licensing, tariffs, universal service provision, interconnection, data protection, the independent management of the national numbering plan and the frequency spectrum as well as number portability. Efforts are needed to ensure that the responsibilities of the regulatory bodies are clearly separated from those of the telecom operators in accordance with EU requirements. Considerable investment in telecommunications infrastructure and installations is needed in order to reach EU standards. Latvia must comply with the requirement to unbundle access to the local loop. It must also continue to modernise the fixed network and rebalance prices.

Postal services

In the field of postal services, Latvia must continue with legislative alignments regarding the licensing regime, universal service providers, reserved area, requirements for tariff principles, transparency and separation of accounts for postal service providers. Latvia published standards for a universal postal service in September 2002. Information Society

With regard to the Information Society, Latvia is modernising its legal framework for information and communication technology. Two programmes have been launched, one on the implementation of information technology in education, and the other on the computerisation of the education system. The Latvian national computerisation programme (1999-2005 action plan) has begun. A law has been adopted to the effect that, by 2003, all general and professional educational facilities will have a computer class and provide a common network and access to the Internet. Latvia's national programme for the eEurope+ Action Plan has been updated to include the concept of e-Latvia, which aims to involve all sectors of the population in the process of developing the Information Society.

(1) Decision of the EU-Latvia Association Council of 23 July 1999 adopting the terms and conditions for the participation of Latvia in Community programmes in the field of research, technological development and demonstration (1998 to 2002) and in programmes for research and training activities (1998 to 2002).
Official Journal L 265, 13.10.1999

(2) The eEurope+ Action Plan aims to accelerate economic reform in the candidate countries through the use of technology and the tools of the Information Society.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

 
Last updated: 26.01.2004
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