Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Second Report


GUIDELINES FOR TRANS­EUROPEAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS


(23071)

15324/01

COM(01)742


(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
Department:Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration:Minister's letter of 13 March 2002
Previous Committee Report:HC 152-xviii (2001-02), paragraph 8 (6 February 2002)
To be discussed in Council:Transport and Telecommunications Council 25-26 March
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared


Introduction

  20.1  TEN-Telecom supports projects to explore 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 by contributing to the initial investment required to make an application or service operational.

  20.2  Under the Decision establishing a series of guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks,[42] 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.

The Commission report

  20.3  The Commission report makes recommendations on how to remedy various problems with the programme, in particular a concentration on small-scale validation studies with low potential impact, and too few implementation projects.

The proposed revisions to the guidelines

  20.4  In the proposal on revisions to the guidelines, the Commission attempts to address various weaknesses identified, and some issues raised, in a critical report from the Court of Auditors in the year 2000 on the operation of the TEN­Telecom programme[43].

  20.5  When we considered the proposed revisions on 6 February, we asked the Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness (Mr Douglas Alexander) to comment more fully on the issues which he had told us that the Government wished to discuss further. The Department of Trade and Industry was consulting other government departments, so we asked him to reply when the consultation was further advanced.

The Minister's letter

  20.6  The Minister says that the responses to the consultation did not reveal any additional issues. The concern which he had identified in his Explanatory Memorandum, about the reference to the delivery of applications and services over higher bandwidth (broadband) networks being insufficient, had been dealt with. The Council Working Group had agreed to the inclusion of a clear reference to the use of broadband networks in the revised guidelines.

  20.7  The Minister comments:

"Hence the Government can agree with the Common Position on the draft guidelines, which will be presented at the Telecommunications Council for political agreement on 25­6 March. I think that you will agree with me that the proposal is uncontroversial and I hope that we will be in a position to support the Common Position at the Council."

  20.8  The Minister recalls that, in the report, the Commission recommended that the level of support for implementation projects should be increased to 20%, from the current maximum of 10%. He says:

"There has been no adverse comment from Departments on this recommendation. In general, the change would be welcomed, as any increase in the level of financial support will need to be managed within the existing total budget ceiling for the programme and it is expected to help increase the focus on introduction of services and away from study projects. In due course, the Commission will need to submit a formal proposal to modify the TEN financial regulation: this statement of intent does not affect the current decision on the revision to the guidelines".

  20.9  According to the Minister, once new guidelines have been agreed, the Commission will agree a work programme with the programme management committee. It will be used to improve programme management and can be revised, within the framework of the guidelines, to respond to changes in technology and the market.

Conclusion

  20.10  The Minister has indicated that no new issues have been raised in response to his Department's consultation and that the issue which he had identified on broadband networks has been satisfactorily resolved. The Government wishes to support the Common Position on 25-26 March and we now clear the document.


42  Article14 of Decision No.1336/97/EC of 17June1997. Back

43  (21266) 8310/00; see HC 23-xxvi (1999-2000), paragraph 13 (26 July 2000). Back


 
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