EU Parliament makes compromise deal on telecom laws

The European Parliament voted Wednesday to accept a compromise deal on a legislative package designed to modernize and simplify the legal framework for electronic communications in the European Union (EU).

The compromise, which resulted from the removal of certain elements of the package, gives the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, powers to oversee national regulatory regimes. It allows the Commission to overrule national regulators in key areas that impact on the functioning of the single, EU-wide, market.

The decision, which required European Parliament agreement, will allow for coordination of radio spectrum policy issues across Europe. This is vital to avoid a repeat of the fragmentation of the European market which followed the sale of licenses for 3G (third- generation) mobile communication networks, the European Commission said, welcoming the result in a statement put out shortly after the Parliament’s vote.

Making Europe the most competitive economy in the world within ten years is the ambitious target set by EU heads of state at a summit in Lisbon in the spring of 2000. One of the first steps they called for was an overhaul of EU laws relating to the telecommunication industry, to be completed by the end of 2001.

A controversial directive on data protection for telecommunication was earlier dropped from the package approved Wednesday, because it was feared that the impasse on two central issues in that law would delay the whole thing. Those two issues are data retention and unsolicited commercial e-mail.

The directive is to be put off until early 2002, according to an official at the Commission.

The European Commission, in Brussels, can be reached at