Total Pageviews

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reminder: UK isolated in EU Council - may lead to 2015 compromise

Telecom Italia, guardians of ugly monopolists ETNO, was always going to spike the Italian Presidency's guns, so this will probably roll on to the next Telecoms Council chaired by Latvia in early 2015 - though not presumably as late as the 9 June formal Telecoms Council - handily on the Google Calendar for the Latvian Presidency.
There will be a UK General Election before that date but as all major UK parties are neoliberals (except in this area possibly the LibDems) don't expect much change. Note the Latvians have a lot of fibre connections and a 51% government-owned incumbent.
Ed Vaizey in any case set out the UK position very clearly in a 'Dear Bill' letter to the European Scrutiny Committee in May of this year:
I begin with noting that the outcome of the EP First Reading deal was not as expected i.e. in line with the recommendations put forward by the ITRE Report. This was, in the main, due to the ALDE (liberal) Group within the EP withdrawing its support for the content of the ITRE Report covering this issue after voting for its adoption, and then aligning itself with the positions previously adopted by the Socialists & Democrats and Green Groups by jointly putting forward a series of amendments. It was these amendments that were voted passed during the Plenary vote rather than those in the ITRE Report.
"As noted above, the result is that the EP First Reading now contains a specific definition of “net neutrality”, as well as a more restrictive approach to “specialised services” and “traffic management”. This is in direct opposition to HMG’s current negotiating stance and underlines the contentious nature of this issue as previously noted in the most recent Commons Committee Report.
I can confirm that I remain convinced that self-regulation and transparency of traffic management measures will be more effective in delivering an open internet than regulation and that any Regulation risks being too prescriptive, inflexible and may have unintended consequences, including higher consumer bills. Further, First Reading text includes amendments that may have implications for our work on child internet safety. I also remain of the view that it is difficult to accurately define many of the more technical terms used in this area.
"Thus, whilst I do not believe regulation to be the answer, we are committed to working with the Commission and other Member States to ensure that the text produced in Council addresses as many of these issues as possible in order to manage the risks I identify above and taking into account that the introduction of regulation in this area enjoys broad support from the EP and Council. That said, the issue has yet to be fully discussed at Working Group level and so the situation may change but taking into account early indications of Member States’ views in this area, we cannot rely on a change on the position from one where UK’s remains relatively isolated in its opposition. It is worth noting that the issue of net neutrality is one that is covered by the UK and German initiative.
"Further, HMG has also engaged with industry, through the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), to accurately understand the impact of regulation in this area, for both content producers and communications providers alike. We will continue to work closely with industry and Ofcom to ensure that our input into negotiations is as influential as possible. Should the European institutions decide that Regulation is the only way forward and UK is unable to gain wider support for its self-regulatory stance, we should prepare to ensure that any adopted text is as workable as possible given the current state of the UK market and the existing self-regulatory approach."
Hence the isolation - but for Germany, Spain and Italy with their giant state-owned telecoms former monopolies - was expected....

No comments: