[ec] Late last night (at 0:45), the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached an agreement on the EU Telecoms Reform, after intense negotiations brokered by the European Commission. The reform, proposed by the Commission in November 2007, substantially strengthens competition and consumer rights on Europe's telecoms markets, facilitates high-speed internet broadband connections to all Europeans and establishes a European Body of Telecoms Regulators to complete the single market for telecoms networks and services. Following the endorsement of the reform package by an overwhelming majority of the European Parliament in May this year, only one subparagraph had remained controversial between Parliament and Council: the degree to which access to the internet should, and could, be protected by EU law, as well as the procedural and judicial safeguards for internet users. After further talks, in a conciliation committee made up of representatives of the 27 Member States and an equal number of representatives from Parliament, the negotiators of Parliament, Council and Commission agreed last night – by unanimity – on a new internet freedom provision that will substantially strengthen the rights of internet users. The new internet freedom provision will be accompanied by new measures to reinforce the neutral character of the internet in Europe. Following final votes in Parliament and Council in November, these reforms could come into force in early 2010.
Agreement on EU Telecoms Reform paves way for stronger consumer rights, an open internet, a single European telecoms market and high-speed internet connections for all citizens