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EU: Telecoms Council

Volume 715: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister for Digital Media (Stephen Timms) has made the following Statement.

I am pleased to confirm the agenda items for which BIS has responsibility at the forthcoming Transport, Telecommunications (Telecoms Council) in Brussels on 18 December 2009.

There are only three substantive agenda items, the first of which is a televised policy debate on the adoption of council conclusions on the post-i2010 strategy—towards an open, green and competitive knowledge society. These conclusions are member states’ consolidated views on what policies and workstreams should be in the successor to the current i2010 framework (i2010 is Europe’s ICT agenda). The UK welcomes and supports the adoption of these conclusions, as ICT is now seen by all member states as one of the most important components of a states economic “armoury”. They are in line with the Digital Britain report and also with the priorities that the UK submitted to the recent EU Commission’s public consultation on a successor to i2010. They will be taken account by the Commission in crafting the new ICT strategy, due to be adopted in the first half of 2010.

In my intervention (we expect nearly all member states to make comments) I will welcome the opportunity to debate this essential issue, and as per my recent letters to both Houses on i2010, I will suggest that a new ICT strategy framework should now focus on an agenda that delivers greater benefit for businesses and consumers; should be economically focused, and that the Commission should move away from regulation towards incentivising take up and investment in new networks/technologies, particularly carbon-reducing technologies.

The next item on the agenda is the adoption of council conclusions on communication from the Commission—transforming the digital dividend into social benefits and economic growth. This item concerns the member states’ views on this communication, which outlined a set of proposals for a common approach to the digital dividend in Europe. (The digital dividend is the radio spectrum that is released when member states switch from analogue to digital television.) We do not expect a table round on this item, but if there is a discussion, I will intervene to note my support for the conclusions and their encouragement to member states to complete their switchover programmes during 2012. I will also emphasise our preference for a non-legislative approach to the use of the 800MHz band for mobile broadband services.

The last substantive item on the agenda is the adoption of council resolution on collaborative European approach on network and information security. The resolution (on which there are no reserves) notes the Commission’s efforts in 2009 to promote action on critical information infrastructure protection and it also looks forward to the Commission’s forthcoming proposals on network and information security priorities and the future of ENISA. I will be intervening (if there is a discussion) to note that we welcome this resolution and that the UK has an open mind about the future of ENISA and looks forward to the Commission’s proposals on this matter.

The Swedish presidency is also hosting a ministerial lunch, where member states will debate, informally, the issue of competition and investment in next-generation networks. This discussion will start with a presentation by UK spectrum expert Martin Cave, and I will emphasise the importance of maintaining (and indeed enhancing) competition, as we move towards adoption of next-generation networks. In particular, I will stress the need for competitive access to new networks across the EU.

In addition to the three substantive items, there are two further items for which BIS has responsibility listed under any other business. The first of these will be an update from the council presidency on internet governance including a report on the recent Internet Governance Forum that took place in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

Finally, the incoming Spanish presidency will present its work programme for the next six months, which begins on 1 January 2009.