This morning, the European Parliament voted the Telecoms Package (in third and final reading): 510 votes in favour, 40 against, 21 abstentions.

 

This follows the adoption of various elements of the package by Council by decisions taken on 26 Oct 2009 and 20 Nov 2009. 

At the press conference held in the European Parliament, satisfaction was expressed by the Rapporteurs and by the Chairman of the Conciliation Committee, as well as by Commissioner Viviane Reding. 

 
The revised EU directives will be officially signed by the President of the European Parliament and the Presidency of Council on 25 Nov 2009, followed by publication in the Official Journal in the next few weeks (expected on 18 Dec 2009), with a deadline for transposition in national law of the Member States 18 months after publication (June 2011).    

Outstanding issues, and outright disagreement, have already emerged, as follows:

Catherine Trautmann stated very clearly that Net Neutrality would come back on the agenda, and would be debated in Parliament in 2010. She added that 'we need to see clearly on this topic, on the basis of 'monitoring' conducted by the European Commission' and that 'it is not appropriate to simply take over elements from across the Atlantic'.

Groups of Member States made two declarations: 

  • European Commission powers over regulatory obligations ('remedies'): Austria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and United Kingdom issued a joint statement, declaring that the scope of the European Commission’s decision-making powers under Article 19 of the Framework Directive by reference to Articles 15 and 16 of the Framework Directive is limited to matters concerning market definition, assessment of significant market power and the effect of market analysis on whether obligations should be imposed or not on undertakings but does not extend to the choice and design of remedies under Articles 8 of the Access Directive or Article 17 of the Universal Service Directive.
  • Privacy (consent for cookies): Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia, Spain and United Kingdom issued a joint statement (not further discussed here). 

At the press conference held over lunch today, Commissioner Reding stated forcefully that declarations by Member States do not have legally binding value, and that the European Commission will very seriously apply Art 19 if decisions by National Regulatory Authorities (including on remedies) could endanger the internal market. On privacy, she made a clear distinction between spyware/malware and 'technical cookies'.