Update 27 July 2009: Conciliation meetings (between the Council
of Ministers and the newly elected European Parliament) will be held in the first week of October 2009 with a view to reaching a new political agreement on the legal framework. The question as to whether conciliation will be limited to the Amendment 138/46 issue alone, the amendments to the Framework Directive, or whether the entire package will be re-opened for discussion remains unresolved.
In the meantime, the Council of Ministers today adopted the final text of the updated "GSM Directive". The updated Directive will be signed by the Presidents of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in September and will then be published in the EU's Official Journal in October 2009. At the same time, the European Commission will adopt a Decision, which will enter into force on the same day as the updated Directive, setting out the technical measures allowing for the co-existence of GSM and UMTS systems in 900 MHz spectrum in line with the Directive.
Update 26 May 2009: The Council of Ministers will discuss the situation informally on 11 June 2009 (but it is not a formal agenda point, given that the European Parliament has not yet transmitted the texts it has voted).
The European Parliament plenary voted today on the revision of the EU directives on electronic communications, and adopted the text that was agreed in the Coreper I last week, but in addition the vote resulted in the reintroduction of Amendment 138/46 which the Council of Ministers had opposed. This amendment reads as follows:
applying the principle that no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article
11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened where the ruling may be subsequent.
La Quadrature du Net states that this is the result of "remarkable citizen mobilization".
The implications of this development are -as yet- uncertain. The Czech Presidency and the Council of Ministers could conceivably decide to agree with the European Parliament's amendment, following conciliation (quite possibly resulting in delay) or the entire package could be scuppered.
Following today's vote, the European Commission issued a memo,
indicating what the Commission sees as the 12 key points of the package, and including a
statement by Commissioner Viviane Reding, as follows: "Now the ball is in the court of the Council of Telecoms Ministers to decide whether or not to accept this package of reforms. There was one amendment voted by the Parliament today that was not included in the initial deal agreed between the three EU institutions. This amendment is an important restatement of the fundamental rights of EU citizens. For many, it is of very high symbolic and political value. I call on the Council of Ministers to assess the situation very carefully, also in the light of the importance of the telecoms reform for the sector and for the recovery of our European economy. The Telecoms Council on 12 June should be used for a political discussion on whether agreement on the package is still possible or whether the discussion will have to start again with the new European Parliament in autumn."
The European Parliament subsequently issued a press release, in which it indicates the following: "MEPs amend a political agreement reached with the Council [...] Therefore, the whole "telecom package" is likely to be subject to conciliation in Parliament's next legislative term after the European elections [...] Parliament and Council do agree on the citizens' right directive and the establishment of a new European body of telecom regulators called BEREC but amend the compromise reached with Council on the framework directive. Since all three proposals are interlinked, it is likely that the whole package will go to conciliation."