Skip to main content

EU: Telecoms Council

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 7 December 2006

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Industry and the Regions has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I will be representing the UK at the Telecoms Council in Brussels on the morning of 11 December 2006. This is the only Telecoms Council under the Finnish presidency of the EU.

The first item on the agenda will be the draft council resolution for a strategy for a secure information society in Europe. This concentrates specifically on trust and security in the ubiquitous information society of tomorrow. It reflects presidency concerns on information security issues and also the conclusions of the i2010 Information Society Conference the presidency hosted in Helsinki on 28 September. I intend to give my endorsement to this resolution, as the actions it outlines for the Commission, member states and stakeholders are all consistent with the accepted need to engender trust, security and confidence in the online transactions we all increasingly carry out.

The presidency will then introduce an exchange of views on the proposal for a regulation on roaming on public mobile networks within the Community. This draft regulation, adopted in July, and on which I recently wrote to the European scrutiny committees, seeks to reduce the level of roaming charges across the Community in a harmonised manner. While there has been a general consensus among member states that regulatory intervention is justified, there has been considerable concern on the detail of the Commission's draft, particularly regarding the imposition of retail price control. Indeed, the UK, along with several other member states believes that the current draft, if adopted, may unintentionally have consequences which might damage some consumer interests. In my intervention, I will warmly endorse the objectives of the Commission but note the shortcomings of their approach, highlighting the UK-tabled amendments including the introduction of a sunrise clause on the imposition of a retail cap.

There will also be a short exchange of views on the proposal for the full accomplishment of the internal market of Community postal services. This will be achieved through the removal or reduction of obstacles that are currently hindering the functioning of the internal market. Given the benefits that will be achieved through the liberalisation of the market such as choice of provider, better service quality and improved value for money, I intend fully to support this proposal.

Finally, under “any other business”, the presidency will provide feedback on its i2010 conference and the Internet Governance Forum which took place in October. The Commission will also do a presentation on the communication that it issued in November entitled Bringing eCall back on track. I do not expect to intervene on any of these items.