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Telecommunications Council - 1 December 1997

The EU's Telecommunications Ministers met in Brussels on 1 December 1997. The Telecommunications Council held discussions on a number of policy issues relating to liberalization and technological development of telecommunications services in Europe.

Particular points of inter...
The EU's Telecommunications Ministers met in Brussels on 1 December 1997. The Telecommunications Council held discussions on a number of policy issues relating to liberalization and technological development of telecommunications services in Europe.

Particular points of interest concern the adoption of a multiannual Community programme for the Information Society in Europe, the adoption of a common position on number portability and carrier pre-selection and discussion on the use of Internet in schools. The Council also discussed issues relating to the need to ensure the security of electronic communications.

The Council reached political agreement on the proposed multiannual Community programme for the stimulation of the Information Society in Europe. The programme will run from 1 January 1998 to 31 December 2001 and will dispose of a budget of ECU 25 million. Its main aims will be to increase public awareness and support for the Information Society, support measures aimed at optimizing the socio-economic advantages of the Information Society in Europe, and support measures allowing exploitation of its international dimension. The programme will be officially adopted during a subsequent Council meeting.

A common position was reached on the proposed modifications to the "Interconnexion" Directive concerning number portability and carrier pre-selection. The Council's common position foresees the introduction of both number portability and carrier pre-selection within two years of the liberalization of telecommunications in the Member States. For the ten Member States for whom complete liberalization is foreseen by 1 January 1998, this means that number portability and carrier pre-selection must be introduced by 1 January 2000 at the latest. For the five remaining Member States the deadlines would be as follows:

- Luxembourg: 1 July 2000;
- Spain: 1 December 2000;
- Ireland and Portugal: 1 January 2002;
- Greece: 1 January 2003.

The common position is expected to be formally adopted at a forthcoming Council meeting.

The Ministers also participated in a general debate on the use of Internet in schools. All delegations were in favour of supporting as wide as possible use of the Internet. It was agreed that this would require equipping schools, universities, libraries etc. as quickly as possible and promoting teacher training in this area. Opinions were, however, divided on how this was to be financed.

Other items discussed included the Commission's proposed action plan for promoting safe use of the Internet, the Commission's communication on promoting security in electronic commerce and setting up a European framework for digital signatures and encryption, and its communication on mobile and wireless communications.

Two Directives were adopted without discussion. These concerned the use of personal data and the protection of privacy in the telecommunications sector, and the development of common rules for the internal market for postal services.

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