Select Committee on European Scrutiny Second Report


Letter from the Minister for Competitiveness (Mr Alan Johnson) at the Department of Trade and Industry to the Chairman of the Committee

I am writing to inform you of the outcome of the Telecommunications Council of Ministers meeting that took place in Brussels on 22 December.

There was a substantive debate about how to reduce the limits to the reserved area for posts. Discussion focused on Presidency proposals that sought to reconcile the original draft directive from the Commission, the different views of Member States and the opinion of the European Parliament. One of the key areas of contention was whether it was possible to set now a date and timetable for full liberalisation of the postal market. The Presidency concluded that an agreement was not yet possible and discussions will therefore continue under the Swedish presidency.

On proposed legislation arising from the European Commission's 1999 communications review, the Presidency concluded that a common orientation was not yet possible on Articles 6 (consultation and transparency) and 13 (significant market power) of the Directive on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services. There was also a Presidency progress report on the remaining elements of the 1999 review. Negotiations on these proposals will therefore continue under the Swedish Presidency.

The Council agreed a Decision to create a programme to encourage and develop European content on the Internet and promote a multilingual information society.

There was a report from the Presidency on actions taken during the last six months to implement telecommunications related parts of the eEurope Action Plan.

The Commission presented its sixth report on the implementation of the current telecommunications regulatory package, and the proposed Regulation for a .eu top-level domain name. The Commission also presented a Communication on the results of the World Radio Conference and looked forward to a forthcoming Communication on cybercrime.

I am writing in similar terms to Lord Tordoff and copying this letter to the Leader of the House of Commons, Keith Vaz, the Chief Whip of the House of Commons, Sir Richard Wilson and the Clerk to your Committee.

15 January 2001.

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Prepared 26 January 2001