I am sitting at the European Union ministerial (ministers of communications and information technologies) informal meeting in Prague, Czech republic, and listening to the future of the Internet and telecommunications.
Already met with Vivian Reding, the EU commissioner who made the mobile phone calls in Europe affordable by everyone who travels across the borders in the EU.
We already heard Matthias Kurth, Chairman of European Regulators Group, Rene Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, and right now Sten Tamkivi, Skype Evangelist and General Manager is talking about the new communications tools.
Bulgaria is represented by chairman of the ITC Agency, Mr. Plamen Vatchkov, and I will publish his speech later today here.
The questions for a joint discussion of the Ministers and the Commissioner:
– What instruments should the Member States consider for the encouragement of investment in electronic communications?
– What should be the role of the European Commission regarding the coordination of those instruments?
– What level of spectrum harmonisation should be envisaged to ensure that wireless broadband services and other innovative wireless technologies can be developed across the EU to the benefit of the economy and of end-users?
– How can we create a regulatory environment fostering innovation on the e-communications market?
– Would you consider it appropriate to include broadband Internet connection in the universal service obligations?
– Where would you see the right balance between a harmonised regulatory approach and the specific national conditions?
Update. The official press-release:
The aim of the conference “Next steps in EU Telecoms” was to discuss the regulatory framework and appropriate measures that would stimulate investments in digital infrastructure.
The Telecom Ministers of the EU Member States and a delegation of the European Commission led by the Media and Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding met today in Prague to discuss the future development of the electronic communications sector in the EU.
Digital technologies are one of the main pillars of the EU economic competitiveness. Investments into electronic communications represent an important tool which can significantly accelerate the process of tackling the current economic crisis. This is why European companies need to be backed by a quality regulatory framework that will allow them to maintain a competitive position on the world market and provide innovative solutions and quality services to their customers.
“I am happy that the EU Member States agree that the new regulatory framework following the adoption of the telecoms package should create conditions for investments, particularly into new infrastructure. Maintaining a stable and functioning telecoms market means that new rules must not contradict the rules protecting economic competition”, Czech Industry and Trade Minister Martin ???man stated during the conference.
The adoption of the telecoms package, which was the second topic of ministerial discussion today, will bring a significant impulse to stimulate the future development of EU telecoms sector. The Czech Presidency opened the final phase of negotiations on the telecoms package in January 2009.
So far, the progress of the talks with the European Parliament has shown that to find a compromise on the telecoms package, agreement will have to be negotiated on five crucial issues: radio spectrum policy, next generation access networks, the power of the Commission to harmonise the internal telecommunications market, the veto power of the Commission on decisions of national regulators and strengthening the cooperation between independent regulators.
“Our discussion today has shown that the Member States are willing to reach an agreement with the European Parliament and the Commission. As the country holding the Presidency we wanted to make sure that in controversial issues we can go further beyond the common position accepted by the Member States in November last year. The Member States expressed confidence in the Czech Presidency?s negotiation strategy. However, as the saying goes, nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed,“ Minister Martin ???man said.
The telecoms package is a set of legislative measures which aim to establish a new regulatory framework in diverse areas of the EU telecommunications market. It represents a unique opportunity to adjust the regulatory framework to the contemporary technological and economic development in the electronic communications sector. The draft legislation was published by the Commission in November 2007. The Member States agreed on their common position in November 2008. The second reading on the telecoms package will be launched officially on February 19 in the European Parliament.
My impressions: an update of Minister Riman saying, “until everything is agreed, nothing is agreed”. There will be a lot of discussions on some of these topics.