Telecoms Reform Package

Conservative Spokesman on the Internal Market Malcolm Harbour MEP is spearheading negotiations with the Czech Presidency on the telecoms reform proposals to ensure a second reading agreement is reached in April.
 
Mr Harbour's report, which strengthened proposals to boost competition and investment in the telecommunications sector, covers all forms of electronic communications including telephone, both fixed line and mobile, fax, internet, cable and satellite.
 
He has ensured Conservative measures to open markets, remove regulations and promote new technology and wireless services have been prioritised during negotiations with the European Council.
 
Several key consumer friendly measures feature in the report, from enabling consumers to transfer their phone networks within one day – in some cases this currently takes up to one month – protection against being switched against their will to other network providers, and clearer information about price plans when taking out a phone contract. There are also several measures to improve network security and fight spam.
 
The report is part of the so-called ‘telecoms reform package’ which promotes competition, less regulation, a better functioning internal market and increased consumer protection measures.
 
The Conservatives welcomed the majority of the European Commission’s proposals but were sceptical about its suggestion for a new European Telecommunications Market Authority to help implement the new rules. From the outset the Conservatives fought against the proposal, which would have added bureaucracy and huge costs to the EU. An alternative body is being negotiated with the Czech Presidency, which will include more input from National Regulatory Authorities due to their proximity to the local market.
 
The European Commission proposes better use of radio spectrum throughout the EU following the digital switchover from analogue to digital in 2010, which will free up two thirds of frequency bands. The introduction of spectrum trading and more market-orientated allocation of spectrum are strongly supported by the Conservatives.