Representatives of the Hungarian and Polish Presidencies of the EU’s Council of Ministers, the European Commission and European Parliament, meeting in Brussels on 17 June, have agreed on talks to reach an agreement by the end of this year on an EU strategy for management of Europe’s radio spectrum, one of the most important legislative proposals of the Digital Agenda for Europe.
Minister of State for Infocommunications Zsolt Nyitrai, representing the Hungarian EU Presidency, Undersecretary of State for Telecommunications Magdalena Gaj, representing the upcoming Polish EU Presidency, Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda and, via video link, Gunnar Hökmark, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for spectrum, met in Brussels to discuss one of the EU’s most significant legislative proposals in the digital agenda, the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP – see MEMO/10/425).
The participants agreed that the EU must have a strong and ambitious strategic programme for spectrum if it is to ensure competiveness and growth and reap the benefits of technological innovation for citizens. In particular, they agreed efficient EU spectrum policy is a top priority for Europe and that the rapid adoption of an ambitious RSPP is needed in order to make more spectrum available fostering further increase in broadband deployment, particularly in remote areas, and allowing uptake of new and innovative uses of spectrum.
The key EU players have discussed the timing of the dossier and noted that considerable progress was made by the Parliament and by the Council during the Hungarian Presidency. They agreed that this momentum should be exploited under the upcoming Polish EU Presidency, with the aim of reconciling the Council and Parliament position and to reach an agreement if possible by the end of the year. All parties agreed to continue the constructive collaboration to ensure sufficient spectrum for Europe’s spectrum-based industries making an important contribution to the digital society, fast wireless services, economic recovery, growth, high-quality jobs and long-term EU competitiveness.
“Spectrum has been a key dossier of the Hungarian ICT Presidency programme. We have been making all the efforts to achieve agreement within the Council. Thanks to the work performed and the progress report prepared by the Hungarian Presidency, no major outstanding issues remained in the Council in connection with the proposal. Now we need to strike the best agreement, taking account of the views of stakeholders in order to provide Europe with the necessary instruments to compete on the global telecoms scene” – Minister Nyitrai underlined.
“There was progress made during the Hungarian Presidency and spectrum will be one of the main telecommunications priorities of the upcoming Polish Presidency, too” – underlined Minister Gaj. “We need a well–balanced approach as well as a good and close cooperation with the Parliament and the Commission, in order to achieve a compromise as soon as it is possible. There is a need for an early adoption, considering the deadlines and remaining implementing work. The right management of spectrum fosters economic growth and is essential for the digital Europe and creation of the single market. Spectrum could be also used as a mean against the digital gap, answering the needs of the EU citizens. A more efficient allocation of spectrum could also unlock the potential of the knowledge-based European economy. For that reasons the aim of the Polish Presidency is to accelerate works on that significant legislative dossier.”
Vice President Kroes said „An ambitious Radio Spectrum Programme is vital for the Digital Agenda and economic growth. Additional frequencies would provide better connections and speed for important new services. As other parts of the world forge ahead with major spectrum initiatives, Europe cannot afford to loose out through lack of ambition”.
„I want Europe to be in the lead. Because the lead in ICT, mobile broadband and Internet will give you the lead in new services, new applications, new technologies and new competitiveness in the economy as a whole. We must be in the lead creating room for the Googles, Facebooks, Yahoos and Apples, and Blackberries, of tomorrow, with companies staying and developing worldwide in Europe. We must be in the lead allocating frequencies making sure we have the best connectivity, capacity and speed for new services and the most modern economy. Bridging the digital divide. Paving the way for transnational services. Creating the opportunities for the highest speeds possible. That’s what we can do, as politicians.” – underlined MEP Hökmark.
Radio spectrum is a resource of tremendous economic, societal and cultural value, as it is the basis of important services such as broadcasting, mobile communications, wireless broadband, navigation, public safety, etc. Radio spectrum is public good under national control, which, where appropriate, should be managed in a coordinated manner in line with EU principles.
The new EU legislation for electronic communications calls on the Commission to present a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and Council to establish a multiannual Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP) setting out policy orientations and objectives for the strategic planning and harmonisation of the use of spectrum. Spectrum policy initiatives are also key to the Digital Agenda for Europe and to the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
The proposal for the first RSPP, presented by the Commission in September 2010, aims to establish a five-year policy programme to promote efficient radio spectrum management and, in particular, to ensure that sufficient spectrum is made available by 2013 for wireless broadband helping the EU fulfil its commitments in the Digital Agenda for Europe to give every European access to basic broadband by 2013 and fast and ultrafast broadband by 2020. During the Hungarian Presidency, the Council in its meeting on 27 May took note of a progress report together with a Presidency compromise proposal, while the European Parliament voted its report on 11 May 2011 (see MEMO/11/290).