AUTHORISATION OF TELECOMS NETWORKS AND
Commission Opinion pursuant to Article 251(2), third subparagraph, point (c), of the EC Treaty, on the European Parliament's amendments to the Council's common position regarding the draft Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services.
|Legal base:||Article 95; co-decision; qualified majority voting
|Department:||Trade and Industry
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 19 March 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
||None; but see (21567) 10979/00: HC 28-ix (2000-01), paragraph 8 (21 March 2001)
|To be discussed in Council:
||6-7 December 2001 Transport and Telecommunications Council
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
17.1 This proposal, known as "the Authorisation
Directive", is one of seven proposals that will form the
new regulatory framework for electronic communications networks
and services. They were anticipated in the Commission Communication
on the results of the public consultation on the 1999 Communications
Review, which we considered on 24 May 1999 and 19 July 1999.
It was debated in European Standing Committee C on 16 February
17.2 The Directive aims to harmonise and simplify existing
national systems for the authorisation of networks and services
by national regulatory authorities (NRAs), setting out the framework
with which NRAs must comply when setting, for example, administrative
charges and conditions. We cleared the draft before the Council
agreed a Common Position on it on 21 March 2001.
17.3 The Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness
(Mr Douglas Alexander) says that the Council and European Parliament
started negotiations on the key elements in the package in the
autumn of 2000. These culminated in a Second Reading agreement
reached shortly before Christmas 2001. On 7 February, the Minister
informed us of the outcome of the negotiations. No texts were
available at that time but the Minister said that when they had
been finalised, Explanatory Memoranda would be submitted on them
"as normal". We considered his letter on 13 February.
The Minister now tells us that the Directive was adopted on 14
The Commission document
17.4 The Commission's Opinion lists the amendments to
the Common Position agreed as part of the final deal, and confirms
that the Commission finds all of these acceptable in full. The
Minister says that there were only four changes to the Common
" new recital wording on the payment arrangements
for one-off usage fees for radio frequencies and the scope for
benchmarking studies by the Commission;
- specification of licensees' rights on the withdrawal or restriction
of rights to install facilities;
- a description of different national, regional and other agencies'
roles, as part of the information to be made available on applying
for rights to install facilities; and
- a technical change reducing the additional transitional period
for cases where the new regime will lead to a reduction in rights
or an extension of obligations (from twelve to nine months)."
The Government's view
17.5 The Minister comments that the Government fully
supported the agreement reached on the Directive in December,
and believes that the final version of the package represents
a very good outcome for the UK. He notes that there were relatively
few amendments to the Common Position text of the Authorisation
Directive and that none of them has any adverse policy implications
for the UK.
17.6 The Minister says that the final text of this
proposal before adoption was acceptable to the Government and
that it liaised closely with industry and consumer representatives
throughout the negotiations. We have no particular problems with
the revised text, but we would have expected the Minister to ensure
that we had an opportunity to scrutinise it before it was adopted
on 14 February. In his letter of 7 February, he certainly appeared
to give this undertaking.
17.7 We comment on the failure of scrutiny on this
and other proposals in the package forming part of the Second
Reading Agreement in our Conclusion on the Framework Directive
in paragraph 15 of this Report.
17.8 We clear the document.
8330/00; see HC 23-xix (1999-2000), paragraph 7 (24 May 2000)
and HC 23-xxv (1999-2000), paragraph 8 (19 July 2000). Back
Report, European Standing
Committee C, 16 February 2000. Back
10979/00; see HC 28-ix (2000-01), paragraph 8 (21 March 2001). Back
14838/01; see HC 152-xix (2001-02), paragraph 8 (13 February 2002). Back