Telecoms council reiterates commitment to ICT policy ahead of Spring Summit

EU telecoms ministers have confirmed their commitment to EU policies on ICT. Meanwhile, seven Member States face legal action for failing to transpose the regulatory framework.

  • e-Europe: Ministers endorsed the mid-term review
    of the e-Europe 2005 Action Plan as presented by the Commission in
    February (see

EURACTIV, 24 February
). An adjusted plan will be presented by
the Commission to the June European Council.

  • Broadband: Member States who have not yet prepared
    their national broadband strategies are invited to do so before the
    Commission publishes a Communication on the subject in May.
    National broadband strategies were to be handed to the Commission
    by end 2003 at the latest but many still appear to be missing. The
    Commission declined to give precise numbers. Meanwhile, new
    statistics on broadband penetration published on 9 March show an
    encouraging upward trends, climbing up to an average of 6 per cent
    throughout the EU.
  • 3G: Network deployment remains the top priority
    for this nascent industry. A Commission Communication is expected
    in July.
  • Spam: Action is to focus on enforcement of the
    ‘opt-in’ system for unsolicited commercial communications by Member
    States. A working party will seek common interpretation of the
    opt-in rules given that complying with the ‘opt-in’ system has
    sometimes proved problematic for businesses (see EURACTIV’s newly
    updated LinksDossier on

Privacy and data protection in
the telecoms sector
). National
implementation policies are to be made available on the
Commission’s website in the future.

  • WSIS: the United Nation’s

World Summit on Information Society(WSIS) concluded in
December 2003 with the adoption of a fairly weak plan of action and
declaration of principles in support of ambitious goals (see
EURACTIV, 15 December
). The Commission and the Member States
are invited to prepare for the second round of the summit in
November 2005, and in particular to take part in the UN’s Task
Force on Financing and Working Group on Internet Governance. The
Commission is to report on the preparations for the second phase of
the summit.


    In a statement issued prior to the ministers' meeting, the
    European telecommunications network operators association
    ETNO insisted on open competition between
    different platforms (fixed and wireless networks, fibre optics,
    cable, satellite and ADSL) in order to continue broadband
    expansion. It supports public funding to help roll out broadband in
    underserved, remote European regions only when market forces have
    failed to do so. On the WSIS, ETNO expressed concerns that the
    proposals may fall short of their expected goal to connect half of
    the world to the Internet by 2015.

    Meeting with Commissioner Liikanen on 5 March, CEOs of five
    telecoms companies presented their investment
    plans for the next three years. However, they warned that
    substantial investments by new entrants will only be possible if
    the regulatory framework is properly implemented by Member States
    who are accused of creating loopholes and uncertainty in the reg
    ulatory environment. They expect the Commission to take a tough
    stance on those countries which have not yet fully implemented the
    regulatory framework. The European Competitive Telecoms Association
    (ECTA) announced that it will publish a scorecard in April that
    will assess the relative regulatory effectiveness of ten Member

    The European interest group for mobile phones (
    GSM association) welcomed last month's Commission
    communication on broadband and 3G. It insisted on public and
    private investment to stimulate growth and expects the Spring
    Summit to tackle the issue when it meets on 25 March.


    Two weeks ahead of the Spring summit, EU telecoms ministers
    have on 8 March reiterated their commitment to the e-Europe 2005
    Action Plan and highlighted the importance of the information and
    communications sector as a driving force for growth. Nonetheless,
    seven Member States now face the possibility of a legal action for
    failing to transpose the new regulatory framework on electronic
    communications (see
    EURACTIV, 18 December
    ). Commission services told EURACTIV it
    was evaluating the replies to its warning sent last December and
    could take action within a few weeks.


    • March: Commission to publish guidelines on measures
      ('remedies') to be imposed on telecoms operators enjoying
      significant market power
    • 25-26 March: Spring European Summit
    • 21-23 April: Informal telecoms Council
    • May: Commission Communication on national broadband
    • June: Commission to present an adjusted e-Europe action plan
      ahead of European Summit
    • 10-11 June: Telecoms Council
    • 17-18 June: European Summit
    • July: Commission Communication on 3G deployment


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