Select Committee on European Scrutiny Ninth Report


COM(00) 386

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: SEM and Minister's letter of 19 March 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 17 (15 November 2000)
To be discussed in Council: 4-5 April 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared


  8.1  This proposal is one of seven 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 and 19 July[35] and which was debated in European Standing Committee C on 16 February 2000.[36]

  8.2  This proposal sets out a harmonised regulatory framework for the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services across the European Community. The intention is to exclude the regulation of broadcast content from the scope of the proposal. It would replace the current Licensing Directive 97/13/EC on a common framework for general authorisations and individual licences.

Scrutiny and the timetable

  8.3  We considered the proposal on 15 November 2000 but did not clear it as it was still subject to negotiation. We asked the Minister to bring us up to date before the proposal was put to a Council with a view to reaching political agreement on it. The Swedish Presidency now aims to reach political agreement on the proposal at the 4-5 April Telecoms and Transport Council and a Common Position on it at the 27-28 June Telecoms and Transport Council. The European Parliament had its first reading on the proposal on 1 March.

The Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum (SEM)

  8.4  In her SEM of 19 March, the Minister for Small Business and E-Commerce at the Department of Trade and Industry (Ms Patricia Hewitt) says that the Government is satisfied that the results to date in the Council Working Group have addressed the main concerns she set out in her Explanatory Memorandum of 10 October 2000.[37] She says that:

    "—  Member States are agreed that spectrum trading should be permitted in accordance with the provisions of the proposed Framework Directive[38] ...; and that

    "—   Member States are agreed on the conditions and procedures that can be applied to the use of radio spectrum. The Government believes that these now strike the right balance between limiting conditions to the minimum necessary and ensuring the effective management of spectrum."

  8.5  The Minister says that only one issue remains outstanding at the time of writing:

    "—  while some Member States share the belief that recoverable administrative charges should fund all activities undertaken by national regulatory authorities (NRAs) under the new framework, the Swedish Presidency has received broad support for a compromise proposal that would cover costs necessarily incurred but not those associated with justifiable activities undertaken at NRAs' discretion. The Government does not consider this outcome to be ideal but, if there is little likelihood of securing suitable amendments at the 4 April Telecoms Council, would accept it as a significant improvement over the current rules, established in the Licensing Directive, which restrict cost recovery to the management, control and enforcement of the licensing regime."


  8.6  We thank the Minister for bringing us up to date with the state of negotiations on this proposal. We accept the Government's intention to vote for the Swedish Presidency compromise, if a more satisfactory outcome is not achievable, and now clear this document.

35  (21189) 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

36   Official Report, European Standing Committee C, 16 February 2000. Back

37  (21567) 10979/00; see headnote to this paragraph. Back

38  (21562) 10962/00; see paragraph 5 of this Report. Back

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Prepared 30 March 2001