November 5, 2009 / 12:52 AM / 10 years ago

EU reaches agreement over telecoms reforms package

 * Reforms to boost competition, beef consumer rights
 * Lawmakers, gov'ts break deadlock over user's rights
 By Bate Felix
 BRUSSELS, Nov 5 (Reuters) - European Union lawmakers and
the bloc's governments, clinched a deal early on Thursday over
a stalled telecommunications reform package aimed at boosting
competition, EU officials said.
 A committee made of EU government representatives, members
of the European Parliament and the European Commission, ironed
out differences over the bill between the three EU bodies,
paving the way for a final rubber stamp by the EU authorities.
 EU lawmakers sent the reform package back in May due to
concerns the proposed bill would not adequately protect the
rights of Internet users.
 "I am very happy that we have reached an agreement on the
telecoms package," said Asa Torstensson, Communication Minister
of Sweden, which holds the collective EU's Presidency.
 "This agreement strengthens the competitiveness among
enterprises and enhances the consumer protection in Europe,
which will lead to ... better and less expensive broadband
services and substantially stronger protection for all Internet
 The proposed reform would beef up consumers' contractual
rights and also create a pan-EU supervisory body to improve how
the 27-nation bloc's telecoms rules are applied so no operator
can be shielded from competition.
 In May, The EU Parliament voted 407 in favour, 57 against
and with 171 abstentions on an amendment to strengthen the
rights of Internet users.
 The lawmakers wanted to make it harder for the authorities
to cut off Internet access for any subscriber suspected of
breaches such as illegal downloading of copyright material.
 The assembly and EU states have a joint say on the reform,
which comprises several parts that were all adopted by broad
majorities. But due to the amendment, the prior informal deal
with EU states was reopened.
 The deal reached by a so-called conciliatory committee on
Thursday, allows the parliament and the council of EU telecoms
ministers another eight weeks to pass the final text without
making any amendments.
  (Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by Andre Grenon)

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