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Brussels, 28 November 2007
The EU Council of 27 Telecom Ministers will meet tomorrow in Brussels. For Telecoms issues, the Commission will be represented by Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner. The main subject to be discussed will be the Commission proposal of 13 November on reforming the EU Telecoms Rules. The Council is also expected to adopt conclusions on Mobile TV, to make progress towards quickly repealing the GSM Directive and towards a better system for mobile satellite services.
Main agenda items at this Telecom Council:
The EU Telecoms Reform
On 13 November 2007, the Commission adopted proposals for a reform of the EU telecoms rules (see IP/07/1677; IP/07/1678). With the reform, the Commission wants to enable citizens, wherever they live and wherever they travel in the EU, to benefit from better and cheaper communication services, whether they use mobile phones, fast broadband internet connections or cable TV. To achieve this, the Commission proposes strengthening consumer rights; giving consumers more choice by reinforcing competition between telecoms operators, in particular by adding the new remedy of "functional separation" to the tool box of regulators; promoting investment into new broadband infrastructures, in particular by freeing radio spectrum for wireless broadband services; and making communication networks more reliable and more secure, especially against viruses and other cyber-attacks.
A new European Telecom Market Authority – that will merge and evolve the functions carried out today by the European Regulators Group (ERG) and of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) – will support, as from 2010, the Commission and national telecoms regulators in ensuring that market rules and consumer regulation are applied consistently, independently and without protectionism in all 27 EU Member States.
The Commission also proposes to move ahead with an EU coordinated approach on the future use of spectrum that will become available as a result of the move towards digital broadcasting (the "digital dividend"). Action needs to be taken without delay even before the reform package will be put in place in line with the principles of new proposed rules.
At this Council
The Commission will present its proposals to the Council of Telecoms Ministers.
Strengthening the single market for Mobile TV
The Commission is strongly committed to the success of mobile TV (see IP/07/340), a new innovative service which will provide new jobs and business opportunities across the EU. The Commission sees today's Council conclusions as an important signal of the political will of the Member States to contribute to the successful rollout of mobile TV across Europe. On 18 July 2007, the Commission adopted, in its Communication on "Strengthening the Internal Market for Mobile TV", a strategy supporting the take-up of mobile TV across the 27 EU Member States. The Commission urges Member States and industry to facilitate and accelerate the deployment of mobile TV across Europe and to encourage the use of DVB-H as the common European standard for mobile TV.
At this Council
The Council will adopt conclusions on the Commission's communication. The publication of DVB-H in the list of official EU standards, as proposed by the Commission, is expected to take place in spring 2008
Making it easier to offer and develop innovative Europe-wide mobile communications
The Commission proposed on 25 July to remove restrictions on radio spectrum currently used by GSM mobile telephony to make it easier and more lucrative for mobile operators in Europe to offer and develop innovative wireless technologies (see IP/07/1170). This will lead to a more widespread use of wireless broadband services in remote areas of Europe. Lower network costs for operators and the need for less base stations, are other benefits that will result from the repeal of the GSM Directive.
This action is fully in line with the Commission's policy to promote a more flexible use of spectrum which is an important element of the reform of the EU Telecom Rules (see IP/07/1677). The urgency to deal with frequencies reserved for GSM was raised by industry and has been echoed by the representatives of the Member States in the Radio Spectrum Committee. By adapting the regulatory environment to facilitate the deployment of advanced mobile communications, these proposals contribute to the objectives of the i2010 initiative which promotes an open and competitive internal market for information society and media services for the benefit of European citizens (see IP/05/643).
At this Council
Broad support by Member States is expected for the repeal of the GSM Directive, which also requires the approval of the European Parliament. Once repealed the Directive will be simultaneously replaced by a Commission decision (based on the Radio Spectrum Decision) to allow the use of the valuable 900 MHz band for new innovative wireless communications systems such as UMTS (provides 3rd generation mobile broadband services) while preserving the continued operation of GSM.
Towards a better process for European Mobile Satellite Services (MSS)
Satellite systems cross national boundaries but current authorisations systems remain national. Significant economies of scale will also result from consistent national authorisations throughout Europe. On 22 August 2007, the Commission adopted a proposal to select systems for mobile satellite services at European level (see IP/07/1243). Mobile satellite services constitute a sector with high potential for Europe, with applications ranging from mobile TV, through broadband data to advanced emergency services. If adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, this new selection mechanism will allow innovative services to be deployed smoothly throughout Europe in as many EU countries as possible from early 2009. Stakeholders strongly support this proposal for EU-wide coordination.
At this Council
The Presidency will report on the progress made in the Council. It is expected that the Council, in close cooperation with the European Parliament, will reach agreement in one reading in early 2008 so that the Commission could start the "beauty contest" for the mobile satellite service providers immediately afterwards.
The European Action Plan for "Ageing Well in the Information Society": Harnessing the potential of Europe's "Silver Surfers"
On 14 June 2007, responding to the needs of Europe's growing ageing population, the Commission adopted a European Action Plan for "Ageing Well in the Information Society" (see IP/07/831). This Action Plan is accompanied by a new joint European research programme which will raise to over €1bn the investment on R&D and innovation in information and communications technologies for improving the life of older people at home, in the workplace and in society in general.
The Commission also adopted the Communication on the European i2010 initiative on e-Inclusion: "To be part of the Information Society" on 8 November 2007. This aims to accelerate progress in e-Inclusion towards the targets adopted at the Riga Ministerial Conference in June 2006 (see IP/06/769). The initiative launches actions to overcome barriers to the information society, to stimulate the full participation of those at risk of exclusion, benchmarking and an e-Inclusion awareness raising campaign. Preparing e-Accessibility legislation is also included.
At this Council
Also at this Telecoms Council: