GUIDELINES FOR TRANSEUROPEAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS
(a) Commission Report on the implementation of Decision 1336/97/EC on a series of guidelines for transEuropean telecommunications networks.
(b) Draft Decision revising Annex I to Decision No. 1336/97/EC on a series of guidelines for transEuropean telecommunications networks.
|Legal base:||(a) ; (b) Article 156 EC; qualified majority voting
|Document originated:||10 December 2001
|Forwarded to the Council:||11 December 2001
|Deposited in Parliament:||16 January 2002
|Department:||Trade and Industry
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 22 January 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None
|To be discussed in Council:||Transport and Telecommunications Council 25-26 March
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Not cleared; further information requested
8.1 To "derive full benefit from the setting up
of an area without internal frontiers", the Treaty establishing
the European Community calls for the development of trans-European
networks in three areas: energy, transport, and telecommunications
8.2 Unlike the other two areas, TENTelecom has
moved away from supporting the development of infrastructures.
It is hoped that, by supporting services of public interest that
are not competing with commercial services, the programme will
encourage the development of telecommunications infrastructures.
Any direct financial support for these has come from Structural
Funds in qualifying regions and the European Investment Bank.
8.3 Instead, commensurate with its funds, TEN-Telecom
supports the technical and commercial feasibility of applications
and services that use communications networks, their validation
and deployment. They must be innovative, trans-European, and based
on proven technology. The programme provides support for a pre-deployment
phase during which business plans and market validation studies
are drawn up, and for deployment, when it contributes to the initial
investment required to make an application or service operational.
The Commission report
8.4 Under the Decision establishing a series of guidelines
for trans-European telecommunications networks ,
the Commission is required to submit a report every three years
on the implementation of the Decision. At the same time, the Commission
is required to make appropriate proposals for the revision of
the Guidelines, based on technological developments and on experience
in operating the programme.
8.5 Projects are selected on a competitive basis, in
response to calls for proposals in specified areas. An overview
is given in the report of the calls issued from 1998-2000, divided
between services and applications. The services include generic
information services, services for industry and commerce, new
access methods, mobility and convergence. The applications include:
- education and training;
- access to Europe's cultural heritage;
- applications and services for SMEs;
- transport and mobility;
- environment and emergency management;
- city and regional information networks; and
- new work methods and services for the job market.
8.6 In 2000, the Court of Auditors produced a critical
report on the operation of the TENTelecom programme.
To some extent, changes in the programme had already addressed
some of the issues identified by the Auditors. This Commission
report confirms that there are still some underlying problems,
in particular a concentration on small-scale validation studies
with low potential impact, and the inclusion in the programme
of too few implementation projects. The report makes recommendations
on how to remedy these failings.
8.7 The Court of Auditors identified overlaps between
TENTelecom and other EU initiatives, such as parts of the
research programme and some elements of the regional funds. The
Commission, in its report, identifies weaknesses, exacerbated
by its complex structure, in marketing and promoting the programme.
8.8 In the attached proposal on revisions to the guidelines,
the Commission attempts to address these issues by improving the
definition of the concept of a trans-European project of public
interest and by grouping application areas to reduce the number
of action lines. Support for technology and infrastructures will
no longer be included in the list of areas covered, bringing the
guidelines into line with current practice. On the other hand,
the revised guidelines pay particular attention to applications
for new generation mobile networks and to security issues. In
addition, they introduce the need to provide for social inclusion
and to accommodate the specific needs of less developed or less
8.9 The Commission proposes to take action on other issues
- the work programme, which it will draw up for implementing
the guidelines, such as by introducing a two-stage process for
- through the TEN financial regulation, an instrument common
to the three TEN areas, in which it will increase the level of
support for implementation projects.
The Government's view
8.10 The Minister for eCommerce and Competitiveness (Mr
Douglas Alexander) says that the UK supports the intention to
improve the focus of the programme. This is in line with the Court
of Auditors' report, in that it should help to reduce overlap
with other initiatives, and with the Commission's own analysis,
in that it will make it easier to market and promote the programme.
He comments that the proposed guidelines emphasise:
" the importance of eGovernment and eAdministration;
- the role of new generation mobile networks and trust and confidence
services in enabling eCommerce and eGovernment applications and
- applications for disabled and elderly people. This orientation
is generally in line with Government policy.
"On the other hand, the reference to delivery of applications
and services over higher bandwidth (broadband) networks is insufficient."
8.11 The Minister says that many of the application areas
identified in the proposed guidelines are the responsibility of
other government departments but the DTI will be consulting on
the policy implications of the proposal for the Government as
a whole. The consultation addresses a number of issues identified
in the report and in the Commission's explanatory memorandum but
not included in the draft guidelines. These issues will be subject
to further discussion, either under the TEN financial regulation,
or in drafting the Work Programme.
8.12 The Minister does not identify in any detail
exactly which issues the Government is concerned to discuss further.
We ask him to provide us with a fuller view of the Government's
position on the proposed guidelines and the issues raised in the
document when the consultation is further advanced and before
putting forward its position to the Council.
8.13 Meanwhile, we shall keep this document under
154-156 EC. Back
14 of Decision No 1336/97/EC of 17 June 1997. Back
8310/00; see HC 23-xxvi (1999-2000), paragraph 13 (26 July 2000). Back