Telecommunications Policy in Europe
Telecommunications Policy in the European Union
The telecommunications market has been fully liberalised since 1 January 1998. In the longer term, the European Union intends to equip itself with a pan-European electronic network enabling the rapid exchange of images, sound and data among authorities, businesses and individuals.
In February 1997, 68 countries signed the World Trade Organisation’s “Telecom” agreement, the aim of which was to reduce the cost of telephone communications. This agreement, in operation since 1998, embodies the following elements in particular:
since 1998 the United States, Japan and the European Union have been fully open to both internal and external competition;
the transition periods are December 1998 for Spain, 2000 for Ireland, 2005 for Greece and Portugal;
Central and Eastern European countries benefit from other transition periods ranging from 2000 for the Czech Republic to 2005 for Bulgaria.
In July 2000, the European Commission formulated proposals to reform legislation in the telecommunications sector. A range of directives were adopted in February 2002, laying down regulations on the universal service and availability for all telecommunications services, licensing, and access by telecommunications enterprises to the existing physical networks, so they can access their clients directly and maintain unconstrained contact.
Working Party on Telecommunications and Information Society
The working party deals with policy issues concerning information and communication technologies. Much of the work is related to the Digital Agenda for Europe, which aims to help create a coherent digital economy in Europe by 2020.