Skip to main content

Telecommunications Council

Volume 571: debated on Thursday 5 December 2013

The Telecommunications Council will take place in Brussels on 5 December 2013. The Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, Shan Morgan, will represent the UK at this Council.

The first item is a progress report from the presidency on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to ensure a high level of network and information security across the Union (first reading—EM6342/13). It is unlikely that any detailed discussion will take place. However, should it be required, any UK intervention will note that while UK welcomes the Commission’s overarching ambition to raise cyber capabilities across the EU, UK wants to ensure that any legislative agreement does not place disproportionate burdens on businesses or public administrations; or create the wrong incentives for sharing information.

The second item is a progress report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on measures to reduce the costs of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks (first reading—EM7999/13). If there is a debate, the UK will state that while UK strongly supports the Commission’s overall objective to support broadband roll-out by reducing the cost of deployment, we do not think that the use of a regulation is the best way to achieve this, reaffirming our view that a directive would be a more appropriate instrument in that it would give member states more scope to implement relevant cost-reducing measures in a proportionate, flexible and cost-effective manner.

The Council will take part in an “orientation debate” guided by a paper and two questions from the presidency. The first question relates to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a connected continent (first reading—EM13562/13 and 13555/13 + ADDs 1-2). It asks member states to indicate what actions contained in the proposal they regard as priorities; and whether it is appropriate to carry out such actions at EU or member state level. The main points of the UK intervention will include: a view that while UK welcomes the objectives of the proposal, we remain concerned that the link between the stated aims and the constituent elements of the package remain unclear or unproven in a number of circumstances; signal, our support for action at EU level for the pro-consumer parts of that package; support for the eventual reduction of the EU roaming rates to zero; and support for proposals that could accelerate the roll-out of new technologies across the EU. Finally, we will state that we do not support the proposals laid out in the package that would give the Commission further competency over spectrum management nor those that would result in the introduction of regulation covering issues relating to net neutrality.

The second question considers the conclusions of the October European Council that covered several aspects of the digital economy—for example, cloud computing, big data and digital platforms—that are currently either unregulated or rely on “soft” regulation. In this question, the presidency asks if any regulatory framework is required in these areas and, again, whether any regulation should be at member state or EU level. The UK’s intervention will state that while UK agrees fully with the conclusions in that the digital economy has the potential to drive innovation, growth and jobs across the EU, UK does not believe that the European Council conclusions call for a new regulatory framework nor does UK consider that one is required.

There are two items under AOB, neither of which are likely to require an intervention. The first item is an update from the presidency on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks and repealing decision No. 1336/97/EC (first reading—EMI6006/11); the second item is an update from the presidency on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (first reading—EM10977/12).

Finally, the Greek delegation will inform the Council of their priorities for their forthcoming presidency before Council adjourns until the next meeting in June 2014.