HC Deb 24 October 2000 vol 355 cc106-7W
Mr. Plaskitt

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the outcome of the Telecommunications Council meeting held in Luxembourg on 3 October. [134446]

Ms Hewitt

There was an orientation debate on the proposed Local Loop Unbundling Regulation. During the debate all member states stressed their commitment to the Regulation and a rapid timescale for its adoption. I strongly welcomed the Regulation as an enormously important issue for the development of e-commerce across the European Union, and confirmed the UK fully supported and would be fully compliant with it. The Presidency hopes that the Regulation will be adopted at the very latest at the next Telecommunications Council in December.

The Council adopted a Resolution calling for a more co-ordinated EU approach within ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Welcoming this, the Commission now intends to establish a network of European expertise on internet naming and addressing issues.

The Commission gave a progress report on the creation of an .eu top level domain name, and it is expected that a Commission Proposal will follow in October. The Council also took note of a Presidency progress report on the programme to improve the exploitation of public sector information, facilitate access to venture capital and boost multilingual content on the internet. The Presidency hopes a Council Decision will be adopted in December. There was also a Presidency progress report on the state of discussions on the new measures under the 1999 Communications Review.

The Council also discussed the Commission's postal services proposal, the main provision of which is to reduce the area reserved for incumbent national postal operators (the 'reserved area') from deliveries weighing less than 350 grams to those under 50 grams. During discussions, member states were divided on whether the proposal offered an acceptable pace of liberalisation, with several member states calling for a target date for full liberalisation. The Presidency hope for agreement at the next Telecommunications Council in December.