Czech Presidency wraps up EU telecoms package

The EU’s market of electronic communications will benefit from new, streamlined rules, after the Czech Presidency successfully brought EU institutions to an agreement on the so-called telecoms package.

„The new rules will strengthen competition on markets, create conditions for further development of this dynamic sector, and provide citizens with access to more reliable and secure services,“ said Jana Reinišová, deputy permanent representative of the Czech Republic to the EU, who led the negotiations with EU institutions.

The successful conclusion of this package is one of the biggest successes of the Presidency on the legislative level. In the course of difficult negotiations in the past months, the Presidency has managed to bring closer the diverging views of the Member States and the European Parliament. There were as many as eleven so-called trialogues with the MEPs. The final deal with its negotiators was struck on Tuesday 28 April.

The Member States gave their consent to the deal on Wednesday 29 April at a meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper I). Now it is up to the European Parliament to rubber-stamp it at its plenary session on 6 May. Finally, the Member States will give its formal seal of approval at a following ministerial Council.

„The success of negotiations is ever more important because of the economic downturn. The sector of information and communication technologies is crucial for Europe and its performance can mitigate the impact of the crisis,” Reinišová said.

During negotiations, the Czech Presidency managed to strike a balance between a more thorough harmonisation of rules governing the telecoms markets on the one side, and the competencies of national authorities on the other, in order for the differences between individual Member States to be respected.

The compromise, among other things:

  • will lead to a greater coordination, on the European level, of principles for the usage of the radio spectrum. This will benefit the development of new technologies and electronic communication services, and prevent the existence of electronic barriers;
  • will create conditions for investments into new generation networks and the development of cutting-edge services;
  • in case all other measures fail, national authorities in the Member States will have, in exceptional circumstances of a serious market disturbance, the possibility to force major telecoms operators to separate the day-to-day running of their networks from services. Such a step can only be taken as a last resort and will be subject to stringent conditions. This measure will not influence ownership structures;
  • an inseparable part of the package is devoted to strengthening the rights of consumers;
  • a new Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) will be created to issue recommendations on the functioning of the market. It will be composed of representatives of national regulators.

One of the last obstacles in the negotiations concerned the citizens’ right of access to the Internet. „We managed to find a balanced solution that respects the Member States‘ legal systems and is fully in line with the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, while at the same time taking into account the Parliament’s concern about safeguarding people’s right of access to information,“ Reinišová said.

Electronic telecommunications sector is crucial for EU’s global competitiveness as well as for the Member States’ economies. It creates about four percent of jobs in the Union and its annual turnover is around 300 billion euros. In the past decade, this sector has contributed to the growth of the European GDP with as much as 25 percent. Six out of ten biggest global telecommunication companies come from the EU.


Background:

The EU adopted its first telecommunications package in 2002. Since then, the electronic telecommunications sector has undergone a significant step forward (leading to technologies such as internet telephony or internet broadcasting), which is reflected in the new legislation. The European Commission put forward the proposal for the telecoms package, which comprises six directives and regulations, in November 2007. The Czech Presidency started negotiations with the EP and the Commission in January 2009.


Contacts:

  • Radek Honzák, Spokesman for Coreper I, Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU, tel.: +32 2 2139 245, mobile: +32 475 734 018; e-mail: radek_honzak@mzv.cz
  • Tomáš Bartovský, Spokesperson of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade, tel.: +420 224 853 311, mobile: +420 602 508 328; e-mail: bartovsky@mpo.cz 

Last update: 16.8.2011 15:39

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