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Brussels, 17 June 2002
Telecom Council, Luxembourg, 18 June 2002
(Per Haugaard, Amelia Torres)
The European Council of Telecommunications will meet on June 18, 2002, in Luxembourg. Mr Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society will represent the Commission at this Council.
The IDA programme promotes the application of Information Technology in the interchange of data between European administrations. The second phase of the Programme is based on two Decisions of 1999 (1719/1999/EC and 1720/1999/EC) and provides for a mid-term report by the Commission, including possible amending proposals on 'guidelines' and 'interoperability'.
On 14 September 2001, the Commission adopted a communication including proposals (in codecision) to amend the two Decisions on the following main aspects:
At this Council
The Presidency is submitting the proposals to the Council for political agreement. They include modifications proposed by Parliament in its opinion and informally agreed on by Council and Commission. Agreement in Council will allow for adoption of the proposal by Council and Parliament in first reading.
Transeuropean telecommunication networks - TEN Telecoms (PH)
The TEN Telecom programme supports services and infrastructures based on electronic communication networks across European borders. The original 1997 guidelines addressed a broad spectrum of services.
The proposed revised guidelines reorient the programme and focus support on services traditionally provided by public authorities, in line with the eEurope 2005 priority areas (Government, Health, Disabled and elderly, Culture and learning).
After adoption of the revised guidelines, the Commission will use the new name eTEN for the programme, to mark the change in its direction.
At this Council
The Council will adopt the proposal.
The European Commission proposal defines three areas where support will be directed:
The four applications areas set out in the guidelines are:
Following adoption, the European Commission will publish a call for proposals, so that projects implementing the new guidelines can start as soon as possible.
Safer Internet Action Plan to deal with illegal and harmful content (PH)
On 22 March 2002, the Commission proposed a European Parliament and Council decision for eSafe - the follow-up to the Safer Internet Action Plan COM(2002)152. This aims to create a safer environment for Internet users, particularly minors, by funding practical measures to deal with illegal and harmful content.
To prepare the eSafe proposal, the Commission consulted the relevant actors and there was overwhelming support for co-ordination within the safer Internet field, both on the national and the European level, particularly for personalised, interactive and mobile applications. New online technologies, new users and new usage patterns create new dangers and exacerbate existing dangers at the same time as opening a wealth of new opportunities; the involvement of all the relevant actors, especially a greater number of content providers in the different sectors, should be encouraged. In addition experts and actors agreed that more time is needed for actions to be implemented to enhance networking, to achieve the objectives of the Safer Internet Action Plan and to take account of new online technologies.
The eSafe programme
At this Council
The Telecom Council will have a general orientation on the eSafe proposal, which is divided into three main action lines:
The European Commission proposes a 2 year extension of the current 4 years Safer Internet Action plan (1999-2002), with an additional budget for eSafe of € 13.3 million (original budget € 25 million).
In preliminary discussions the Member States have supported the eSafe proposal, which is also being examined by the European Parliament.
Communication on IPV6. Council Conclusions (PH)
The European Council at its meeting in Lisbon on March 2000, set the objective for Europe to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world. A comprehensive Action Plan "eEurope 2002" defined the necessary measures to accomplish the objective of "An Information Society for All" and identified three main objectives: a cheaper, faster and secure Internet; investing in people and skills and stimulating the use of the Internet.
During 2001 the IPv6 Task Force (http://www.ipv6tf.org) launched by European Commission with the full support from industry developed a comprehensive action plan aiming at ensuring the timely availability of IPv6. This Task Force has completed its first work phase and issued a series of reports and recommendations. The second phase of the IPv6 Task Force is planned to kick-off next September 2002, with a view to accelerate the pace of the introduction of IPv6.
One of the recommendations of the IPv6 Task Force is to take actions to stimulate the wide spread use of Internet across Europe and encourage the transition to towards IPv6, notably in the context of 3G mobile communications, by avoiding fragmented approaches or mandatory time-lines. This is stressed in the recent IPv6 Communication (http://www.cordis.lu/ist/ka4/mobile/lexdoc.htm, February 2002) from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament "Next Generation Internet priorities for action in migrating to the new Internet protocol IPv6". The Barcelona Summit (March 2002) also recognised IPv6 as a priority issue and "attaches priority to the widespread availability and use of broadband networks throughout the Union by 2005 and the development of Internet Protocol IPv6".
At this Council
The Council is to reach an agreement on a series of conclusions on "the transition to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)". These conclusions will provide a much necessary complement to the statements of the European Council of March 2002 (Barcelona).
In brief, the conclusions:
eEurope 2005 Action Plan (PH)
The Barcelona European Council called on the Commission to draw up a comprehensive eEurope action plan for the period 2003-2005. The new action plan aims to provide a favourable environment for private investment, to modernise public services, and to give everyone the opportunity to participate in the global information society.
eEurope 2005 is a crucial step towards the 'Lisbon goal' of turning Europe into the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010. It represents a focusing of activities on those areas where public authorities can improve the environment for investment and ensure that the benefits of the Information Society are felt by all Europeans in the years to come. The roll-out of broadband infrastructure will be particularly important for the development of new services. eEurope 2005 aims to reduce uncertainties for investors by creating a favourable environment for private investment. At the same time, its multi-platform approach which allows to get on-line using alternative terminals such as the digital TV or a mobile device, contributes to inclusion.
At this Council
The Telecom Council is expected to have an orientation debate on the action plan, which will be presented to the Seville European Council for endorsement.
Council and Commission will then jointly prepare the implementation of the action plan prior to its entry into force on 1st January 2003.
More information: http://europa.eu.int/eeurope
International management of Internet and ICANN reform (PH)
The reform process launched by ICANN earlier this year has generated much debate among public and private sector actors about what shape this organisation should take in the coming years.
ICANN was set up as a platform to enable industry self-regulation and to facilitate consensus building. While ICANN's initial role was however intended to be technical and limited in nature, its agenda has grown over the years as non-technical private sector interest groups (such as IPR holders) and governments have asked it to address non-technical DNS issues.
Earlier this year, the ICANN CEO (Stuart Lynn) announced a major review of ICANN, arguing that ICANN's increased remit called for a greater budget, less "process" (ie. less consultation prior to decision making) and a greater role for governments.
The Commission believes that a global platform for co-ordination and co-operation is still worth working for, and that a new, more efficient ICANN supported by the global Internet community (ie. those bodies who actually operate the Internet's infrastructure) is the objective we should be aiming for. The Commission is also particularly sensitive to the need to take account of the views of the EU Internet community and to ensure the EU has a workable (and therefore credible) line to take in discussions with our international partners.
At this Council
The Commission will welcome the progress made towards defining a common EU position on ICANN reform. The European Commission will state that the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) should have a stronger role towards ICANN and a wider role towards the other stakeholders.
At the same time, the Commission would urge caution about governments becoming formally involved in ICANN's decision making process.
Exploitation of Public sector information (PH)
The public sector collects information in many areas. Examples are financial and business information, traffic and tourism information, mapping information, meteorological information, legal information, administrative information. This information is an important content resource. It can be at the basis of many new digital products and services. It is also important for the development of the mobile Internet, e.g. geographic information necessary for location based services.
The different rules in the Member States in relation to the exploitation of public sector information are a main barrier to setting up cross-border information services based on public sector information. Differences between Member States will even increase, since some are changing their policies and others are not.
The issue was outlined in a Commission Communication of 23 October 2001, that also proposed a package of measures to improve the situation. The Communication gave the political orientations of the Commission and indicated that a Directive was under consideration.
At this Council
The Commission will present its proposal for a Directive that was adopted on 5 June 2002. The proposal aims at a minimum harmonisation of the rules for the re-use of public sector information in the EU. It follows the main political orientations adopted by the Commission in its October 2001 Communication. The proposal:
For more information: http://www.cordis.lu/econtent/psi/
Mobile communications 3G (PH)
Following the 3G Communication of March 2001, the Commission has launched a dialogue with all stakeholders on measures to facilitate 3G deployment. One year after and at a moment when most Member States have finalised their 3G licensing process the Commission takes stock of the situation and analyses progress made so far.
The present Communication is also to be seen as a reply to the request formulated by the Barcelona European Council in March 2002 that the Commission presents at the Seville European Council "a comprehensive analysis of remaining barriers to the full roll-out of 3G mobile communications".(1)
The content of the Communication takes into account the input received from industry on the occasion of the CEO roundtable on 3G of 21 May 2002 as well as the information provided by the Member States on 3G roll-out in the context of the Licensing Committee of 22 May 2002.
At this Council
The objective is to have the Council support the document in view of its discussion at the Seville Council. To this extent, the Telecom Council should be called upon to endorse to the maximum extent possible the analysis carried out by the Commission and the action lines suggested in the Communication.
Member States are in particular called to share the general approach that more co-ordination and harmonisation is needed in the future. Specific actions recommended for endorsement include efforts to facilitate the physical roll-out of networks, awareness campaign on environmental and health aspects, and discussion on secondary trading.
This targeted endorsement will possibly take the form of Presidency Conclusions at the Seville European Council.
Competition in the telecommunication services markets (AT)
The Commission will report to the Council on the state of play regarding draft directive concerning consolidation and simplification of the six Article 86 Directives currently in force. See IP/00/765 and text of draft directive on
State of Play on measures to implement the new regulatory framework (PH)
Following the adoption on 7 March 2002 of four directives for electronic communications networks and services and one decision on a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the EC (http://europa.eu.int/information_society/topics/telecoms/regulatory/new_rf/index_en.htm), the Commission has prepared and is ready to adopt several supplementary measures required by the new package for implementation.
The Commission will report on the schedule for the initial meetings of the two new committees created under the new framework: the Communications Committee and the High Level Spectrum Policy Group both of which will begin to meet during the second half of the year.
The Commission expects to publish in June its draft Recommendation on relevant product and service markets whose characteristics are such as to justify ex ante regulation and to launch a public consultation on the document. This document, like the Guidelines below, are required under the terms of the new package. A public hearing on the Recommendation will be organised during the consultation period. The Commission expects to finalise the Recommendation for final adoption in September 2002.
The Commission has finalised and will adopt its Guidelines on market analysis and assessment of market power under the Community regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services which NRAs will begin to use as from the date of publication of the draft Recommendation.
The Commission will adopt its decision to create a new European Regulators Group in June and the first meeting of this group will be held very shortly thereafter. The Commission will also adopt a Decision to establish a Radio Spectrum Policy Group in June 2002. The main function of the Group will be to advise the Commission on the requirements and on the co-ordination of policy approaches and harmonised conditions related to radio spectrum and will begin operations immediately thereafter.
At this Council
The point is on the this Council's agenda as a means to keep the Council informed of progress to date in implementation of the new package.
(1) Barcelona European Council of March 2002, Presidency Conclusions, paragraph 41.