Member States' representatives in the Council have endorsed a text drawn up with the European Parliament and the Commission that paves the way for setting a comprehensive European radio policy, providing the platform for further improvements to wireless services. The new agreement will foster the roll-out of high speed wireless broadband systems, in particular by requiring Member States to authorise the use of the "digital dividend" 800 MHz band for wireless broadband by January 2013 in all but exceptional circumstances. Moreover, the agreed text will create a wide-ranging and thorough European inventory of spectrum use in the Member States, which will be essential to ensure the most efficient allocation of scarce spectrum resources for wireless services in Europe.

More efficient and competitive wireless infrastructure is vital to Europe's Digital Single Market and will bring one step closer to reality the goals to give every European access to basic broadband by 2013 and fast broadband by 2020 (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). 

N. Kroes, Commission Vice-President said: "Devices like smart phones and tablets are putting our current spectrum allocations under strain. Making the best use of this public resource will ensure we have the rails on which modern communications can run – facilitating new applications and services, driving economic recovery, creating high-quality jobs, and maintaining our place on the world stage. Today's agreement is a big step forward towards making Europe the connected, competitive continent." 

EU Member States and the Commission will be responsible for jointly implementing these strategic priorities (see MEMO/10/425). 

The Radio Spectrum Policy Programme will begin in early 2012 and run through to the end of 2015 but its principles and objectives are of a permanent nature and will not expire in 2015. The agreed Radio Spectrum Policy Programme includes several ground breaking measures: 

·         creating an European radio spectrum inventory and putting in place a process for determining usage efficiency together with a commitment to examine the need for further harmonised spectrum for wireless broadband based on this inventory;

·         fostering the deployment of wireless broadband by setting tight deadlines for authorising the use of several harmonised spectrum bands for electronic communication services;

·         making at least 1200 MHz of spectrum available for wireless broadband services in the Union by 2015, following an assessment based on the new spectrum inventory;

·         defining concrete steps to ensure and promote competition in the single EU telecoms market, avoiding possible distortions arising from the excessive accumulation of spectrum in the hands of certain operators;

·         promoting more flexible spectrum management, encouraging in particular collective and shared use of scarce spectrum;

·         meeting the spectrum requirements of EU policies in sectors such as transport, energy, earth observation and monitoring, civil protection, wireless microphones and cordless cameras, and the Internet of Things;

·         and underlining the need for enhanced EU coordination in international spectrum negotiations.