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Chapter 19 - Telecom, IT and Postal Services
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December 2004

Background

Telecommunications and IT

The European Union established its policy in the telecommunications sector as a result both of rapid technological development and of a landmark decision by the ECJ (valid also for Postal Services) which confirmed that the sector was subject to the competition rules of the Treaty. The policy of liberalisation was adopted following widespread debate on the Green Paper published in 1987. The opening of telecommunications markets across the European Union began in 1988 and, with some transitory exceptions (now expired), were completely opened to competition in 1998. The overall objective was to promote the competitiveness of the single European Community market and to stimulate investments in an environment of rapidly developing technologies. The telecommunications sector is now a high growth area in the European economy in its own right as well as an important stimulant for the economy as a whole.

A second sector wide Green Paper published in 1997 looking beyond 1998 initiated a public debate on the convergence of the telecommunications, media and information technology sectors, and the implications for regulation. Also, a major review of the telecommunications acquis took place in 1999. Both documents pointed to the need to adapt the telecommunications regulatory framework to meet the needs of competitive, converging markets.

The telecommunications acquis has now been updated (February 2002) and candidate countries will be required to transpose and apply this modified legislation by the time they enter the European Union. Implementing the acquis requires a removal of any conflict of interests, real or apparent, through the effective separation of regulatory responsibilities from operational interests. This includes the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for telecommunications and a separation of policy and law making authorities from ownership interests.In the telecommunications sector candidate countries need to:

  • Adopt a national telecommunications policy for the development of the sector consistent with Community policy,
  • Prepare market players for the pressure of competition expected when they join the European Union,
  • Prepare the telecommunications market through the transposition and implementation of Community legislation, in particular through price rebalancing,
  • Ensure the objective enforcement of the regulatory framework through an adequately resourced and well trained independent regulatory authority,
  • Address the communications needs of under-developed regions, especially the adoption of a universal service policy.

Candidate countries have made considerable progress in recent years in adopting and applying the telecommunications acquis as it stood before the modifications in 2002. Considerable renewed effort is needed if the new legislation introduced in the European Union in 2002 is to be adopted before accession. Although the EU will provide help with pre-accession aid, investments are expected to come from commercial sources almost exclusively in the private sector. If private sector finance is to be attracted in the difficult financial markets of today, a minimum requirement is that the separation of regulatory responsibilities from operational interests, only partially introduced in most cases, needs to be carried to completion.

Postal services

As in telecommunications the European Union established its policy in the Postal sector as a result of several convergent factors, inter alia:

  • the growing needs of users and consumers for faster and more reliable basic postal services;
  • new demand for value-added services (express) embracing documents, parcels and freight;
  • the potential use of more available and powerful technological tools and transport means,

The policy for a gradual liberalisation of the Post was adopted following a widespread debate on a Green Paper published in June 1992 by the European Commission.

The overall objective is the implementation of the Single Market for postal services, by opening up the sector to competition in a gradual and controlled way, within a regulatory framework which assures a universal service. The improvement of the quality of service, in particular in terms of delivery time and affordable tariffs are fundamental aspects of this policy.

Concerning the process of enlargement of the European Union and in a global way, the CCs (Candidate Countries) need to:

  • adopt a national postal policy for the development of the sector consistent with Community policy;
  • prepare market players for the pressure of competition expected when they join the EU;
  • prepare the postal market through the transposition and implementation of Community legislation.

State of Play

The Telecommunications, IT and Postal Services chapter was closed with 10 countries in December 2002. It was provisionally closed with Bulgaria in October 2001 and with Romania in November 2002. It has been definitely closed with these two countries in December 2004.

Compliance with the acquis

The latest assessment of each candidate country’s compliance with the acquis under this chapter heading, can be found in the 2004 Regular Reports and in the Comprehensive Monitoring Reports, available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/archives/key_documents/reports_2004_en.htm.

Country by country

Bulgaria

  • Chapter opened: October 2000
  • Status: closed in December 2004 (provisionally closed in October 2001)
  • Transitional arrangements
    • one transitional period of two years (Implementation of Directive 98/61/EC, notably the aspect of number portability)
Cyprus (New Member State)
  • Chapter opened: October 1998
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in May 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
Czech Republic (New Member State)
  • Chapter opened: October 1998
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in April 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
Estonia (New Member State)
  • Chapter opened: October 1998
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in April 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
 Hungary
  • Chapter opened: October 1998
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in May 2000)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
Latvia
  • Chapter opened:March 2001
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in April 2002)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
Lithuania
  • Chapter opened:October 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in March 2001)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
Malta
  • Chapter opened:May 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in May 2000)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
Poland
  • Chapter opened: October 1998
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in May 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements:
    • 3 years (until 31 December 2005) to implement the provisions of Directive 2002/39/EC, with respect to the limitation of the reserved area for postal service provision to 100 grams.
Romania
  • Chapter opened: November 2000
  • Status: closed in December 2004 (provisionally closed in November 2002)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
Slovakia
  • Chapter opened: November 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in April 2001)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
Slovenia
  • Chapter opened: October 1998
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in June 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none 
- updated: 17/12/2004
 
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