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Brussels, 11June 2008
EU Telecoms Ministers meet today in Luxembourg. The Commission will be represented by Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner. The Ministers will discuss several significant Telecoms dossiers, including the EU Telecoms Reform and the mid-term review of the i2010 strategy. The Council is also expected to agree on a general approach for the extension of the mandate of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA).
Main items at this Telecom Council agenda:
Progress on the EU Telecoms Reform
The main principles of the current EU Telecoms rules of 2002 have proved effective in progressively opening up markets, but have not yet remedied all regulatory inconsistencies and have not been able to address effectively all competition bottlenecks. Some remaining fragmentation of regulation across the 27 Member States, including the choice of regulatory remedies, is hindering the development of the Single Market and the emergence of cross-border services and cross-border competition.
The Commission therefore proposed a package of reforms of the EU telecoms rules on 13 November 2007 (IP/07/1677; IP/07/1678) to guarantee greater consistency in the European Telecoms market and enable EU citizens to benefit from better, cheaper and more secure communication services, whether they use mobile phones, fast broadband internet connections or cable TV.
The reform package was presented by Commissioner Reding to the Council on 29 November (MEMO/07/522). General support for its objectives was expressed by a large number of the Ministers present, while different views have emerged on the institutional arrangements for ensuring a more effective European framework for the telecoms markets, especially on the size, funding, mandate and governance structure of the proposed European Telecoms Market Authority. In parallel, the European Parliament has made substantial progress on the Telecoms package by presenting, at the level of the Parliament's Committees, detailed text proposals for an efficient and non-bureaucratic system of independent telecoms regulators.
At this Council
The Presidency will report on the progress made so far in the Council. Ministers will then have the opportunity to exchange views on the package of proposed reforms.
Extending the mandate of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA)
ENISA was established in 2004 for an initial period of five years (IP/06/567). Its original mandate will expire on 13 March 2009. In 2006, the European Court of Justice confirmed that ENISA had been properly established on the basis of Article 95 of the EC Treaty, the single market clause that now has also been chosen by the Commission as the legal basis for the establishment of the proposed European Telecoms Market Authority.
In 2007, ENISA was evaluated with the assistance of an external panel of experts. The findings of the experts and the Commission's own appraisal were presented in a Communication to the European Parliament and the Council in June 2007 (COM/2007/0285). The Communication invites all interested parties to comment on changes in the environment in which ENISA operates – new security threats, the responses needed, and the challenges ahead.
The extension of ENISA's mandate, proposed by the Commission, is an interim measure to ensure continuity of the Community's effort on network and information security and give time for further discussion on the Agency's future.
At this Council
The Council is expected to agree on a general approach regarding the extension of the Agency's mandate for three years, which should pave the way for a first reading agreement with the European Parliament.
For more on ENISA see: http://www.enisa.europa.eu/.
Reaping the full benefits of the digital dividend in Europe
The so-called "digital dividend" arises when radio spectrum is freed up, as a direct result of the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting. This is a unique and once-off opportunity to boost the capacity for providing new and innovative broadcast and wireless communication services. Some Member States have already realised the digital dividend, while others are expected to do so by 2012 when the switchover to digital TV will take place. It is therefore high time to discuss common objectives and to decide on the level and form of EU cooperation necessary for maximising the value of the digital dividend.
In its Communication to the European Parliament and to the Council of November 2007 (COM/2007/0700) – presented together with the Telecoms Reform Package – the Commission proposed to move ahead with a coordinated approach to the future use of spectrum in Europe, as freed-up by the switchover to digital TV. This was first presented to the Council on the 29 November (MEMO/07/522), when the Commission invited the European Parliament and the Council to discuss the common approach and to endorse the actions proposed.
At this Council
i2010 Mid-Term Review
More than half of Europe's citizens are now regular Internet users; 80% of them have broadband connections and 60% of public services in the EU are fully available online. These are the findings of a Commission report on the results achieved so far by i2010, the EU's digital strategy for growth and jobs. The strategy, launched in 2005 (IP/05/643), has led to a firm commitment to promote information and communication technologies (ICT) at EU and national levels. As of 2007, Member States consider ICT development as one of the main achievements in their structural reform programmes. However, some areas still deserve further political attention: the EU's performance in ICT research and innovation falls short of expectations; the migration towards high- speed networks –the infrastructure for the future-internet - is progressing slowly; and there are still significant gaps in the single market for ICT, such as the inclusion of user's rights and expectations.
The Commission's Communication on the mid-term review of i2010, published on 18 April 2008 (IP/08/605), re-examined the i2010 strategy against today's policy priorities for growth and jobs and showed that i2010 is starting to deliver. It confirmed that Information Society and Media policies are making an important contribution to the achievement of the Lisbon goals. It also proposed a re-orientation of the i2010 strategy in order to further boost competitiveness and ICT take-up in Europe.
At this Council
The Council is expected to adopt its conclusions on the Commission Communication, which will guide the i2010 strategy until the end of the current Commission's mandate, and outline priority areas for the future.
EU Action plan for switching to a new Internet Protocol IPv6
The current internet protocol, IPv4, has been used since 1984 and provides 4.3 billion internet addresses, out of which only about 16% remain available for new connections. At the same time, today's internet providers are running short of addresses. Under the new protocol IP version 6, or IPv6, an immense number of additional addresses will become available. The protocol will also support new applications which are too complex or costly for the current IPv4. In 2002 the Commission launched an action plan to prepare the implementation of the next generation internet (IP/02/284) which led to the adoption of IPv6 by European research networks such as GéANT (IP/08/354), the current world leader in using the IPv6. The European Commission has so far invested €90 million in IPv6 research.
Companies will be able to implement new solutions and offer new services to the public if through joint efforts Member States, industry, content and service providers deploy IPv6 in a co-ordinated manner. On 27 May the Commission published its Action Plan for accelerating the use of IPv6 (IP/08/803). It proposes that the European Parliament and Council should agree to set a European target of getting 25% of EU industry, public authorities and households to use IPv6 by 2010.
At this Council:
Towards pan-European Mobile Satellite Services (MSS)
The potential for pan-European mobile satellite services, such as mobile TV,
fast internet access and emergency communications, is massive. Satellite
services can also improve the availability of services in remote and rural
At this Council
The Presidency will confirm the adoption of the MSS Decision by the Council on 23 June. Following the entry into force of the Decision in July, the Commission will publish a call for applications for MSS systems. It is expected that MSS operators will be selected in 2009, and services will be used in 2011.
A Press Conference is provisionally scheduled after the Council in Luxembourg on Thursday, 12 June, at 16.30 hrs.