EU member states agree telecoms reform

May 1, 2009 11:14 am 

BRUSSELS, April 30 — European Union (EU) member states had agreed on a sweeping reform of the telecoms sector after hard-fought negotiations, the Czech EU presidency said on Wednesday.

"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 Reinisova, deputy permanent representative of the Czech Republic to the EU, who led the negotiations with EU institutions.

The Czech government said the final deal was struck on Tuesday following difficult negotiations in the past months. Now it is up to the European Parliament to rubber-stamp it at its plenary session on May 6, and EU governments will give its formal seal of approval at a following ministerial meeting.

"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," Reinisova said.

Under the compromised deal, a new body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) will be created to issue recommendations on the functioning of the EU telecoms market. It will be composed of representatives of national regulators.

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, but 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.

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 EU and its annual turnover is around 300 billion euros (398 billion U.S. dollars).

In the past decade, the telecoms 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. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM/ebp

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