The Council of the European Union, by a Resolution of 7 December 1993, recognizes that: - The maintenance and development of a universal telecommunications service, ensured through adequate financing, represent a key factor for the future development of telecommunications in the Community; - The principles of universality, equality and continuity are the basis for such a service, to permit access to a defined minimum service of specified quality to all users, and, in the light of specific national conditions, at a reasonable price; - Common principles for the provision of universal service would be necessary in order to achieve a balanced and fair regulatory environment throughout the Community, while taking into account the specific national conditions regarding regulatory and market aspects; - Special and targeted provision of universal service for social reasons should be possible; - In order to promote Community-wide telecommunications services there is a need to ensure interconnection of public networks and, in the future competitive environment, interconnection between different national and Community operators; - A universal voice-telephony service (subject to the approval of the national regulatory authority) may be financed though internal transfers, access fees or other mechanisms which take due account of the principles of transparency, non-discrimination and proportionality; - In pursuing the above objective, account will be taken of the specific circumstances of the peripheral regions with less developed networks and very small networks and the role which the appropriate Community support framework may play with regard to national priorities; The Council welcomes the intention of the Commission to take full account of the requirement for universal services in preparing the future adjustment of the regulatory framework for the telecommunications sector, in particular by applying the open network provision principles. The Commission is invited to study and consult, particularly with national regulatory authorities, on the issues raised by the definition of universal service and its means of financing, taking specific account of the needs for adjustment in the less developed regions. At the same time, the Council calls on the Member States to establish and maintain an appropriate regulatory framework and to set appropriate targets in accordance with the objectives of this Decision.
Policy making and guidelines
17 April 1996