HC Deb 02 December 2003 vol 415 cc23-4W
Mr. Hood:

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Telecommunications Council held on 20 November 2003; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [141075]

Mr. Timms:

The Deputy UK Permanent Representative to the European Union, Anne Lambert, attended the Council on 20 November 2003 on my behalf.

There was a round-table debate on the state of the Telecoms sector, in particular, member states' implementation of the Telecoms Regulatory Package, and on 3rd generation mobile and broadband penetration and availability. France (Fontaine) reported on a joint Franco-British ministerial round table with industry leaders, which had proved fruitful in identifying the key success factors for broadband: viable business models throughout the value chain; regulatory stability and predictability; interoperability between platforms; user confidence through a more secure internet; and proper returns for intellectual property. Emphasising that she was also speaking on my behalf, Fontaine proposed that a similar event involving business leaders from across the value chain should be held at EU level in order to help promote the most effective conditions for broadband. Other member states, including the forthcoming Irish Presidency, expressed strong interest in carrying the initiative forward. Presidency concluded that a report of the debate would be submitted to the 12 December European Council. There was also a brief discussion of preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society to be held in Geneva in December.

The Presidency noted that agreement had been reached between the Council and the European Parliament at its first reading on a General Agreement on the structure and tasks of a Regulation establishing a new European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA). The Government supported this proposal but noted that they would have to abstain when it is formally adopted on the grounds that the legal base proposed—Article 95—is inappropriate for this body.

Council Conclusions on: the transition of analogue to digital broadcasting; digital TV and 3rd generation mobile endorsing the Commission's plans for consultation and follow-up action; and calling on member states and the Commission to work towards removing remaining barriers to E-Government services were adopted without substantial debate.