Select Committee on European Scrutiny Seventh Report


COM(00) 407

COM(01) 524


Draft Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on a
regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the European

Amended draft Decision of the European Parliament and of the
Council on a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the
European Community.

Unofficial Presidency text (Common Position) of the draft Decision of
the European Parliament and of the Council on a regulatory
framework for radio spectrum policy in the European Community.

Legal base: Article 95 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Department: Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 19 November 2001
Previous Committee Reports: HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 18 (15 November 2000); HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 15 (18 July 2001) and HC 152-iii (2001-02), paragraph 3 (31 October 2001)
Discussed in Council: 15-16 October 2001 Transport and Telecommunications Council
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: (All) Cleared


15.1  This draft Decision is one of seven proposals for legislation 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 2000.[57]

15.2  The purpose of this proposal is to establish a policy and legal framework in the Community through which harmonisation of the use of the radio spectrum, in areas relevant to Community policy objectives, can be achieved. It seeks to complement the spectrum management activities of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Conference of European Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT).

15.3  In an Explanatory Memorandum of 15 October, the Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness at the Department of Trade and Industry (Mr Douglas Alexander) brought us up to date with developments since his letter of 22 June on document (a). He told us that a "Common Orientation" was agreed at the Transport and Telecommunications Council of 27-28 June and attached the text, saying that it was updated by the Working Party on Telecommunications at its meetings of 12-13 and 19 July.

15.4  We considered the documents on 31 October and noted that the unofficial text attached to the Explanatory Memorandum was described as the Common Position. In a letter to the Minister, we acknowledged that the Government had been successful in most of its objectives but said that, as we had not cleared the proposal, we would like him to have informed us of his decision to lift the scrutiny reserve before our meeting of 18 July.

The Minister's letter

15.5  In his letter, the Minister says that the "Common Orientation" agreed at the June Telecommunications Council was an informal agreement, so he did not consider that agreeing to it was incompatible with maintenance of a UK scrutiny reserve. However it was, of course, his intention that the Committee's agreement would be sought before the common orientation became a Common Position. The Minister goes on to say:

    "In fact, a Common Position was agreed as an 'A' point at the Transport/Telecommunications Council on 15-16 October. While you acknowledge in your letter that the UK's concerns on the Decision have been met — and the further minor changes agreed since June, have, in the Government's view, been helpful — I accept that your Committee's agreement should have been formally sought before the UK agreed to the Common Position.

    "In practice this would not have been possible, as Parliament was in recess at the time of the October Council, and we only had 24 hours notice of the Belgian Presidency's intention to include the Spectrum Decision as an A point on the agenda. However, I should have followed up the Explanatory Memorandum by writing to you to inform you of the Government's decision to agree to the Common Position and I can only apologise that this was not done.

    "I should be very grateful if your Committee were now able to lift the scrutiny reserve, so that the UK will be in a position, if need be, to agree to the Spectrum Decision in December as part of the Communications Review package, provided that agreement can be reached with the European Parliament on their outstanding concerns".


15.6  We thank the Minister for his explanation and would certainly wish the UK to be in a position to agree the Spectrum Decision in December.

15.7  We now clear the documents.

57  (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). The Communication on which the consultation took place was debated in European Standing Committee C on 16 February 2000. Back

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