Telecomraad vergadert 8 juni in Luxemburg (en)
The EU Telecommunications Council will meet today in Luxembourg. Viviane Reding , Commissioner for Information Society and Media, will represent the European Commission.
Note: At this Telecom Council, Norway will sign the eCall Memorandum of Understanding which includes a political commitment to have the requirements for a wide-spread use of the eCall technology in place by 2009. The eCall technology ensures that in case of a road accident, your car will call automatically the emergency services at a "Public Service Answering Point" (PSAP) and report your exact location. Norway is the eighth country to have signed up to the eCall Memorandum of Understanding.
The signing ceremony will take place at 14h30 in the press room at Centre Kiem (5, rue Carlo Hemmer). It will followed by a short press point.
i2010: Commission communication: First annual report on the implementation of the i2010 strategy - a European Information Society for Growth and Jobs
On 19 May 2006, the Commission adopted a Communication which takes stock of the achievements of the first year of implementation of the i2010 initiative and updates the i2010 actions for the period 2006-2007 (See IP/06/654).
It concludes that information and communication technologies (ICT) are a key source of growth and competitiveness. The ICT sector has continued to experience a higher than average growth rate, with estimated revenue increases of 3.6% in 2005. It is the most innovative and research intensive sector in the EU, representing 25% of the total research efforts and 5.6% of the GDP between 2000 and 2003. ICT also generated at least 45% of EU productivity gains over the period 2000-2004.
In the report the Commission calls on EU Member States for more ambitious plans to exploit information and communication technologies (ICT). Member States need to step up their efforts to improve access to broadband internet connections, facilitate the EU-wide circulation of digital content, free up radio spectrum for new applications, integrate research and innovation and modernise public services.
The i2010 initiative was launched by the Commission on the 1 June 2005 (see IP/05/643) and provides the practical policy framework for developing the EU economy using the competitive advantages provided by information and communication technologies (ICTs). It sets out three policy priorities - the single information space, innovation and investment in research and Inclusion- and has defined concrete actions for the year 2006.
At this Council
The Commission will present the First Annual Report on the i2010 strategy, underlining the achievements of i2010's first year, but also the clear need for Member States to be more ambitious on ICT and to deliver concrete improvements in their national reform programmes. In the Commission's view, to help get growth back on track, Member States need to step up their efforts to improve access to broadband internet connections, facilitate the EU-wide circulation of digital content, free up radio spectrum for new applications, integrate research and innovation and modernise public services (See IP/06/654).
Policy Debate on the Review of the EU telecom rules
In the context of this review of the EU telecom rules (last updated and modernised in 2002), Telecoms Council Ministers and the Commission will discuss the following questions:
1.As regards the framework in general: Is the perception of some correct that there is a contradiction between the objectives of the framework, namely competition and investment?
2.As far as spectrum management is concerned
-How can it be ensured that in addition to the need for efficient use of frequencies and the inclusion of appropriate market-oriented mechanisms, the political objectives and physical limitations of frequency use can be balanced?
-To what extent is there a need for an as wide as possible harmonisation of spectrum usage not only on EU-but also on a more extended pan-European and global level?
The current regulatory framework has produced considerable benefits both in terms of competition and investment. To remain effective for the coming decade, it needs attention in a number of areas. The Commission is expected to launch a public consultation on its proposals for change at the end of June.
At this Council meeting, Commissioner Reding will give Ministers an outline of the changes being considered:
-The first area for proposed change is the application of a common EU approach to spectrum management which is less restrictive and more responsive to increasing demands for this critical resource and to rapid technological progress.
-The second main area of proposed change is to reduce the procedural burden associated with the reviews of markets susceptible to ex ante regulation.
-Other changes likely to be proposed would aim to consolidate the internal market, strengthen consumer and user interests, improve security and modernise the Directives and remove obsolete provisions.
Commissioner Reding will underline her view that competition drives investment, whereas slow implementation of regulation and poor application of the framework hold back investment. The framework, when applied in a full and effective manner, is flexible enough to handle new and volatile markets, and allows regulators to take account of the need for risky investments to generate an adequate return on capital when mandating pro-competitive access obligations. As a result, the principles and flexible tools in the regulatory framework offer appropriate means of encouraging investment and innovation that lead to growth.
Last year, the Commission has taken the lead in defining a strategic approach to the use of Spectrum (see IP/05/1199), with the objective to support the Lisbon process and to strengthen the internal market for innovative wireless equipment and services. In its "Communication on a forward-looking radio spectrum policy for the European Union" (COM(2005) 411 final), the Commission highlighted the need to optimise the use of the radio spectrum and to do so in a coordinated fashion in the European Union. In this policy context, the Commission has also clarified its position on two important spectrum policy issues, namely on the potential spectrum "Digital Dividend" available from the transition to digital broadcasting (COM(2005) 461 final), and on the introduction of market mechanisms for spectrum, such as secondary trading (COM(2005) 400 final).
In its report to the European Parliament and to the Council, the Commission will evaluate - also in line with i2010 - how well the regulatory framework has worked so far and will identify any changes to the legislation that the Commission considers necessary. In parallel, the Commission also intends to review its Recommendation on Relevant Markets which identifies those markets that may be susceptible to ex ante regulation. The Commission is required to review the functioning of the Directives making the regulatory framework for electronic communications, and report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the first occasion not later than July 2006.
Information on the review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications is available at:
At this Council
Debate will focus on how to achieve agreed regulatory aims and how to improve regulation.
Member States will give their views on possible changes to the framework, based on their experience of applying it a national level, and on the needed changes for spectrum management.
The Commission will present the changes being considered in the forthcoming Review of the regulatory framework, which will be published at the end of June for public consultation.
The public consultation will close at the end of September, and the proposed legal texts are due to be adopted by the Commission around the end the year.
Reducing Roaming charges in the EU
Following years of warnings to the mobile sector, the Commission intends to come forward with a proposal for a Regulation to bring down roaming charges in Europe's internal market by mid-July (see IP/06/386). Such a Regulation, which would include both wholesale and retail regulation, would have the objective to ensure that the charges for using a mobile phone abroad within the EU are not unjustifiably higher than domestic charges. The proposal of the Commission should enable the European Parliament and the Council to adopt the Regulation by mid-2007. The Commission proposal (which is currently finalised) will, in line with the Commission's Communication on better regulation, be accompanied by a regulatory impact assessment.
As far as International roaming is concerned, the Commission launched and updated a website (Roaming) to provide consumers with transparency on prices and to provide a benchmark of progress. The Commission notes that between September 2005 and March 2006, there was no fundamental shift in behaviour by operators. It is only now, with regulation being imminent, that the market starts to show significant movement. In February 2006, the Commission issued a call for comments on a broad approach to regulation. This was followed from early April to mid May by a more detailed public consultation.
The regulatory initiatives on roaming by the Commission are without prejudice to ongoing investigations under EU competition rules.
At this Council:
The question of roaming and the progress made by the Commission in preparing this regulation will be debated to allow for a smooth legislative process.
Network and Information Security - Towards a future European policy agenda
Telecoms Council Ministers will discuss the following question: "Which are the main policy priorities for Network and Information Security that the EU should address in future policy-making and which are the most appropriate means to tackle the new challenges?"
The EU has traditionally attached great importance to Network and Information Security (NIS) issues (see e.g. the proposal for a European policy approach set out in the Commission communication (COM(2001) 298) and the establishment, in March 2004, of the European Network and Information Security Agency ENISA). A substantial body of legislation relevant to NIS is already in place, notably as part of the regulatory framework for electronic communications.
Nowadays, given the ubiquity of ICTs and the increasingly important functions of electronic communications networks in modern society, NIS remains a challenge. Convergence and multi-platform provision of services calls for effective policy to tackle new forms of threats.
Furthermore, the i2010 Strategy (COM(2005) 229 final) highlighted the issue of security as a prerequisite for the Single European Information Space, in particular as regards offering affordable and secure high bandwidth communications and announced a new strategy to be proposed by the Commission. This initiative takes the form of a communication entitled "a Strategy for a secure Information Society - Dialogue, partnership and empowerment", adopted by the Commission on 31 May 2006 (IP/06/701). The Strategy calls for a structured process of consultation and dialogue on network and information security, as well as a greater awareness and a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all actors involved.
Given the cross-border nature of many security problems and threats, the Strategy also emphasises the importance of international cooperation and creating, fostering and enhancing a global culture of security, in particular as part of the approach agreed at the World Summit on Information Society in Tunis 2005.
ENISA will have an important role to play through, in particular, advising (upon request) the European institutions and Member States, collecting appropriate data, raising awareness and participating in a structured multi-stakeholder dialogue on the issues to be addressed in the future. The Commission Communication of 21 May identifies as one issue of cooperation between ENISA, the Commission and the Member States the creation of a European multilingual information sharing and alert system, which would build upon and link together existing or planned national public and private initiatives.
The Communication will be followed up by a series of policy actions in 2006, including specific initiatives on spam, spyware and malware and on cybercrime.
Regulatory measures which might be considered necessary as part of the strategic approach to security will be pursued in the context of the 2006 review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications.
At this Council
-Debate should consist in an exchange of views focusing on the main policy priorities to tackle the new challenges for Network and Information Security.
-The Commission will take this opportunity to outline the main features of its communication which will contribute to the ongoing European debate.
eGovernment for all Europeans
On the 25th of April 2006, in the framework of the i2010 initiative, the European Commission adopted a new eGorvernment action plan (see IP/06/523). Modernising government services, making them more efficient and more responsive is a key issue to ensure Europe's competitiveness in a worldwide perspective.
The new eGovernment action plan aims to accelerate and to bring online public services into general use in Europe. It also provides landmarks concerning programmes, initiatives, and European policies from 2006 to 2010, and practical means such as roadmaps and strategic controls in priority areas. The eGovernment Awards Finalists at the Manchester Ministerial eGovernment Conference illustrated this well: in Denmark, electronic invoicing saves €200 million per year and in Belgium disabled people now get immediate benefits instead of 3-4 weeks previously. Analyses show that future eGovernment programmes (2005-2010) can boost EU25 GDP up to 1.54 percent. That is an increase of 166 billion€ compared with 2005GDP.
The new eGovernment Action Plan addresses five priority areas in order to provide access to all European citizens, to raise efficiency, to implement high impact services such as e-Procurement, to secure access to eGovernment services across European Union, and to strengthen participation and democratic decision-making.
The role of the Commission is to facilitate, coordinate, stimulate and support the implementation of this Action Plan. In order to promote a real Information Society, all phases of eGovernment developments - from research to policy, via large scale pilots- have to be engaged. The Commission is committed to support eGovernment for all Europeans through its research and deployment programmes such as IST in the 7th framework programme and large-scale pilots in electronic identification and in electronic public procurement in the future CIP programme.
By 2010, The European Commission will co-operate with Member States to ensure that all citizens can access government services online. This will be achieved with the development of new services accessible through a wide range of technologies such as Digital TV, PCs and mobile phones.
At this Council
-The Commission will present its action plan entitled "eGovernment i2010 Action Plan: Accelerating eGovernment in Europe for the Benefit of All".
-The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on eGovernment to demonstrate the Member States' support for the eGovernment Action Plan.
World Summit on the Information Society: Commission Communication: Towards a Global Partnership in the Information Society: Follow-up to the Tunis Phase of the WSIS
The World Summit on the Information Society has laid out a UN-wide consensus on the approach to take in order to foster the emergence of the Information Society at global level. The second phase (Tunis, November 2005) focused on the issues of Internet governance, the fight against the digital divide, and the mechanism to ensure implementation of the WSIS commitments. The issue is now about the implementation of these documents and the preparation for the next steps in the process.
For more information, please see:
At this Council
The Commission will present the WSIS Communication on the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society adopted on 27 April 2006 with emphasis on Internet governance and the activities underway to fight the digital divide (Information Society Dialogues and the Infrastructure Partnership under the new Africa strategy).