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[FYI] Liikanen pledges EU support for the communications revolution



CORDIS RTD-NEWS/ European Communities, 1999.  

Record Control Number: 13756  

Date: 1999-10-11  

Category: General policy  

General Information:  

The 'communications revolution' in Europe has the potential to 
transform society but this can only continue if policy-makers keep 
pace with new developments in the telecommunications field, said 
European Commissioner Erkki Liikanen at the Telecom 99 Conference in 
Geneva on 10 October 1999.  

The Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society was 
speaking about the EU's response to the rapidly changing 
telecommunications industry. Mr Liikanen said the 'powerful 
combination' of digital technologies and liberalisation in 
telecommunications policy have reinforced each other, making the 
telecommunications industry one of the strongest in the world, 
driving growth in the rest of the economy. Sustaining this 'new' 
society will depend on the EU developing a policy framework that 
enables industry to exploit these opportunities.  

'The unique impact of the telecommunications sector is its role in 
the transformation of the economy and society as a whole', he said. 
'We are witnesses of and actors in the transition from an industrial 
society, based on mass production, towards an Information Society, 
which is characterised by globalisation and mobility.'  

Since liberalisation began in 1987, Europe has witnessed an explosion 
in Internet technologies and mobile communications, and now third 
generation mobile telephony looks set to build on their success. 'I 
am encouraged that as a result of the IMT-2000 process, a global 
solution to third generation looks likely. This would be a massive 
achievement, with major economic benefits,' he said.  

Although European liberalisation has been successful, Mr Liikanen 
said there are still three areas requiring work. Firstly, the 
Commission and Member States will examine introducing pro-competitive 
measures to reduce tariffs for leased lines. Secondly, dominance in 
local access networks by some incumbents will be reviewed, and 
thirdly attempts will be made to harmonise the degree of competition 
between Member States.  

Mr Liikanen pledged to reduce red tape to make operators free to 
innovate, while protecting consumers and guaranteeing a minimum level 
of service to the more disadvantaged in society. 'The European 
Commission will later this month issue a policy document that will 
suggest policy orientations to address the shortcomings', he said, 
and it will then invite national authorities, market players and 
other interested bodies to submit suggestions.  

On the global stage, liberalisation is also needed, and although 
substantial progress has been made though WTO and GATS agreements, Mr 
Liikanen said the European Commission 'would like to obtain more and 
better commitments from WTO members'. Furthermore the Commission 
would like to see the scale of the telecoms agreement extended to the 
other hundred ITU members who have not yet signed it.  

Developing countries should not be excluded from these benefits he 
said, and Mr Liikanen pledged EU support in helping countries 
implement the necessary legal and institutional framework for 
liberalisation.  

Mr Liikanen finished his speech by issuing a global request. He said 
to achieve a global Information Society 'we still need to undertake 
courageous policy measures'. He said the European Commission is 
'prepared to deliver this response' and called on the international 
community to respond.  

Data Source Provider: European Commission, Spokesman's Service  

Document Reference: Based on speech by Erkki Liikanen, 10 October 
1999.  

Subject Index Codes: Telecommunications; Policies  

Contact Person:  

The full speech may be found on the Web, at:  
                 
http://europa.eu.int/comm/commissioners/liikanen/speeches/101099_en.ht
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