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With the prospect of the internal market being completed, telecommunications liberalisation emerged as a priority for the European Community in 1987 (Green Paper on the development of the common market for telecommunications services and equipment). In 1988, a directive opened the telecommunications terminals markets up to competition. This was supplemented in 1994 by provisions on satellite equipment.
In the second phase of this development, a directive adopted in 1990 liberalised telecommunications services other than voice telephony. It was extended in 1994 to satellite communications and broadcasting services and then, in 1996, to cable television networks and mobile communications. At the same time, an open telecommunications infrastructure and services network (ONP) was put in place from 1990. The adoption of common rules allowed the conditions of access to the market for new operators to be harmonised. Also in 1990, a directive liberalised procedures for the award of contracts in water, energy and telecommunications.
In 1993, the Council decided to fully liberalise voice telephony services by 1 January 1998. Luxembourg has two extra years because of the size of its network. An extension was given to Spain, Ireland, Greece and Portugal until 2003. At the same time, a Commission communication defined the concept of universal service, detailing the provision and quality of the service, the charging principles and the dispute settlement procedures.
The concept of the 'information society', with its attendant promise of economic growth and job creation, started to take hold from 1994. The general liberalisation of telecommunications structures was pushed forward from this time to allow multimedia development. In 1995, it was decided that it should proceed under the same conditions as the liberalisation of voice telephony services.
In order to facilitate the creation of a genuine European telecommunications market, various initiatives were adopted on the harmonisation of mobile (single European GSM standard) and satellite communications standards, and the integrated services digital network (ISDN). The European Community also finances research programmes in information technologies and the creation of trans-European telecommunications networks, thanks to the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.

Territorial Employment Pacts:
A pact is an agreement between local partners, published in a strategic document and accompanied by operational or financial commitments undertaken by each of them. The measures must promote job creation and economic development. A pact can be drawn up for a city, rural area or local labour market. The territory will generally be larger than a municipality but smaller than a region.

Trans-European networks:
In order to exploit the full potential of the single market, the Community is contributing towards the development of trans-European networks (Articles 129b-129d of the EC Treaty), that is cross-frontier infrastructures in the field of transport, energy, telecommunications and the environment. Measures taken must promote the interoperability of national networks and access to them. In 1994 the European Council decided to provide support for 14 priority transport projects and 10 energy projects.
Transitional support
In 1999 the economic and social situation in some regions was such that continued Community regional assistance in 2000-2006 was no longer justified. Phasing out measures were designed to avoid a brutal cut-off of assistance to these regions:
· Regions which were eligible under Objective 1 in 1994-99 will continue to receive support until the end of 2005. If areas in these regions meet the criteria for the new Objective 2, they will continue to receive support from the four Structural Funds until the end of 2006. Until that date, other areas will continue to receive assistance from the ESF (Objective 3) and possibly the EAGGF Guidance Section (rural development) and the FIFG (fisheries) but not from the ERDF.
· Areas which were eligible under Objectives 2 (industrial conversion) and 5(b) (rural development) in 1994-99 will receive transitional support from the ERDF until the end of 2005. They will also receive assistance under Objective 3 for 2000-2006 with possible assistance for rural development and fisheries.


Universal service:
Universal service is a concept developed by the Community institutions. It refers to the set of general interest demands to which services such as telecommunications and the mail should be subject throughout the Community. The aim is to ensure that all users have access to quality services at an affordable price.

This is one of the four Community Initiatives which will operate in 2000-2006. Its work focuses on the economic and social regeneration of towns and urban areas in difficulty to promote sustainable urban development. Its funding for 2000-2006 will total EUR 700 million. The other three Initiatives are Leader+ (rural development), Equal (equal opportunities) and Interreg (cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation).


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