The European Commission’s Telecommunications Council met in December to consider the 1990 Green Paper on the development of a common market in satellite telecommunications services and equipment. The Council adopted a Resolution, identifying three objectives: the harmonisation and liberalisation of regulations regarding satellite earth stations, including the ending of any special or exclusive rights; the […]
The European Commission’s Telecommunications Council met in December to consider the 1990 Green Paper on the development of a common market in satellite telecommunications services and equipment. The Council adopted a Resolution, identifying three objectives: the harmonisation and liberalisation of regulations regarding satellite earth stations, including the ending of any special or exclusive rights; the separation of the regulatory and operational function of operators; and thirdly, improved access to satellites operated under international treaty, including procedures for setting up separate satellite systems. However a Resolution does not have the same legal status as a Directive. Directives are binding upon Member States, unlike Resolutions. The UK is already one of the most liberal regimes in Europe, but the Resolution will, if implemented, have a notable effect on other member states. Also in December, the Commission considered a proposal for a Directive to amend the 1990 public procurement Directive covering the same area. The 1990 directive extended the public procurement rules applicable to other entities to the previously excluded areas of water, energy, transport and telecommunications. The 1990 Directive which is to be implemented by all member states except Spain, Greece and Portugal by January next year – laid down alternative procurement procedures for entities operating in these areas, including British Telecommunications Plc. This proposal is an extension of the provisions of the 1990 Directive which means that it covers services as well as goods. In the telecommunications area, however, the reserved services of many European PTTs – speech telephony, telex, radiotelephony, paging and satellite services – remain excluded. In this way, public bodies will not have to follow the rules when procuring these services, but they would for others, such as value-added services. The consequences of not complying with these rules are the subject of a further proposed Directive on enforcement which is struggling through the European Commission legislative process. Its most controversial proposal is for a minumum measure of compensation for firms that are unfairly treated, equal to 1% of the overall contract value. A new approval has been published relating to private pay phones. The main changes brought in by the new approvals relate to the information to be provided on notices at pay phones, and technical requirements relating to power failure. The regulations are expected to come into effect in July 1992. Under the Commission Standards Directive, all Member States are obliged to inform the Commission of proposed new technical regulations. Recent regulations in the telecommunications area are as follows. In France, a draft order on the marking of telecommunications terminal equipment has been published implementing a previous draft order on telecommunications terminal equipment approvals procedure. The aim of the draft is to specify those labels that are to be attached to telecommunications equipment where it is, or not intended to be connected to the French Public Switched Telecommunications Network. The National Telecommunications Council of Sweden has published rules and regulations concerning technical design of certain telephony equipment operating on specific frequencies, to be connected to the ISDN. The rules specify that such equipment may be connected provided it fulfils an existing Swedish standard. In Norway, regulations have been published for the technical function required on communications equipment used in health service emergency communications systems. – Vicki Sinden, Peter Strivens of Baker & McKenzie.