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Council Resolution on the telecommunications services market, its situation and further development

A Council Resolution of 16 June 1993 concerns a review of the situation in the telecommunications sector and the need for further development in that market.

The Resolution brings together a number of related strands of Community policy based on Council Directive 90/388/EEC o...
A Council Resolution of 16 June 1993 concerns a review of the situation in the telecommunications sector and the need for further development in that market.

The Resolution brings together a number of related strands of Community policy based on Council Directive 90/388/EEC of 28.6.1990 on the establishment of the internal market for telecommunications services via the implementation of Open Network Provision (ONP) and Commission Directive 90/388/EEC of 28.6.1990 on completion in the markets for telecommunications services. Both these Directives called for a review during 1992 of the conditions under which telecommunications services operate in the Community.

On 21 October 1992 the Commission submitted to the Council a communication on the situation in the market for telecommunication services which assessed in particular, the competitive situation, progress in harmonization, and restrictions concerning access to telecommunications networks, the effects of these restrictions on the operation of the internal market , and the measures that could be taken to remove them. On 15 July 1992 the Commission also submitted a communication entitled "Towards cost orientation and the adjustment of pricing structures' with regard to telecommunications services within the Community.

The Commission has subsequently carried out a wide-ranging consultation with all those involved in the European telecommunications industry and, in particular, has received the opinion of the users of services, telecommunications operators, equipment manufacturers, service providers and the trade unions. The general consensus resulting from this review indicates that:

- There is general acceptance that liberalization of telecommunications services markets is the inevitable result of technological and market developments;
- There is a general requirement for maintaining financial stability in the sector and safeguarding universal service while proceeding with the necessary adjustment of tariff structures;
- It is imperative to have a clear timetable for regulatory changes with defined milestones;
- a realistic approach to further liberalization must be followed, taking into account the needs of peripheral regions with less developed networks;
- There is a need for rapid and effective implementation of the current regulatory environment;
- There is general recognition of the value to users, industry and the whole of the European economy of a well developed telecommunications infrastructure and of advanced and efficient telecommunications services;
- The opening of the Community telecommunications market for third countries should be linked to comparable access to such countries' markets.

On the basis of the above, the Council Resolution considers as major goals for the Community's telecommunications policy in the short term (1993-1995) the adoption of legislative proposals in the field of ONP and satellites, implementation of existing legislation in the field of telecommunications services and ONP, the application of ONP principles (and their adaptation where necessary) in respect of such issues as universal service, interconnection and access charges, and questions concerning licensing conditions. Equally important is the development of Community policy in the field of mobile and personal communications and in the field of telecommunications infrastructure and cable TV networks. Arrangements must also be made for suitable measures in relation to specific difficulties encountered by the peripheral regions.

In the long term (1996-1998), the Resolution considers major goals to be the liberalization of all public voice telephony services (maintaining universal service) and ensuring a balance between liberalization and harmonization in the evolving market. There will be examination, prior to full liberalization of all public voice telephony services of progress on structural adjustment, in particular of tariffs, in countries experiencing specific difficulties, in order to take account of peripheral regions with less developed networks and very small networks (including the fixing of additional transition periods where justified). Finally, a future policy for telecommunications infrastructure should be worked out on the basis of a broad consultation process following the publication of a Commission Green Paper in this area (to be available before 1 January 19984).

The Council requests the Commission to report to the Council and the Parliament on progress made with regard to the implementation and effects of the measures referred to in the Resolution before the end of 1994, and to report its preliminary reflections on a global and coherent framework for a Community telecommunications policy before the end of 1993.

The Council also urges the Member States to promote the progressive rebalancing of tariffs towards cost-orientation together with the continued development of universal service to all users, and to provide the necessary financial, organizational and management independence of telecommunications to allow them to prepare for the competitive environment.

A Commission timetable to ensure phased and progressive implementation of the above objectives is annexed to the Council Resolution:

- July 1993: Council Resolution defining the global objectives for future regulatory change;

- Before January 1994: Adoption of pending Directives (ONP voice telephony, mutual recognition of licences) and satellite Directives package; amendment of Directive 388/90 in order to integrate the objectives of the first phase (1993-1995) and prepare the start of the second phase (1996-1998); publication of a Green Paper on future regulation

- Before January 1995: Publication of a Green Paper on future regulation of public network telecommunications infrastructure and cable TV networks;

- Before January 1996: Amendment of the ONP framework, where required, according to the evolution of ONP principles based on the experience of the fist phase;

- Before January 1997: Completion of regulatory environment for full liberalization;

- Before January 1998: Continuing examination, prior to full liberalization, of progress on structural adjustment in particular, of the peripheral regions and small or less-developed networks, including definition of the additional transition periods.

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