Brussels, 12 December 2001
Telecoms agreement is "major boost" to EU economy
The European Parliament voted today in Strasbourg to accept a compromise deal submitted by the Belgian Presidency on the EU Telecom Package to modernise and simplify the current regulatory environment for electronic communications in Europe. The compromise gives the European Commission powers to oversee national regulatory regimes. If necessary, the Commission will have powers to require national regulatory authorities to withdraw decisions in key areas linked to the functioning of the single market. This is crucial to ensure a level playing field in Europe for telecom operators and consumers. Today's decision provides for the possibility of a genuine co-ordination of spectrum policy issues in Europe. This is crucial to avoid in the future the fragmentation of the European market that followed the 3G licence procedures. The decision adopted today maintains the momentum of reform established in Lisbon last year and by the Commission's eEurope Action Plan, towards reducing costs to European consumers and stimulating growth in the European economy.
"I am delighted by today's decision by the European Parliament. The Member States and the European Parliament have delivered on all key elements of the Lisbon agenda dealing with the Information Society by the end of this year. This agreement is a major boost for Europe's future economic growth and employment", said Erkki Liikanen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society. "Less regulation, easier market entry and a level playing field across EU are pre-requisites for the development of a world class communications and a knowledge-based European economy. An agreement on this package will send a powerful and positive message to the industry and to Europe's telecom users. We all know that the telecom sector has had a rough ride over the last year - and that prices for mobile phone and Internet use are still high and vary between Member States. Today's agreement is a big step in the right direction."
The Telecom Package will result in a comprehensive reform of the regulatory framework for electronic communications in Europe. It adapts the existing rules to take account of the convergence between telecommunications, information technology and media, applying the principle of technological neutrality in an evolving market, where the same services can be delivered over a variety of platforms and received via a range of different terminals.
The new legislation will:
The deal agreed today includes four harmonisation Directives (a Framework Directive and three specific Directives on authorisations, access and interconnection, universal service and users' rights) and a Decision on Community radio spectrum policy.
The fifth Directive in the package originally proposed by the Commission, a Directive on data protection, has incurred some procedural delay. However, it may still be possible to align the date of application for that Directive with the rest of the package if the European Parliament and the Council reach an agreement on a common text within the next few months.
For further Information, see IP/01/1679, IP/01/296, IP/00/749 and: