The presidency of the Telecoms Council will focus, in January and February, on the two topics that stand a chance of being resolved quickly with the European Parliament: high-speed broadband infrastructure and e-signature. The telecoms package can wait... At any rate, that is the agenda announced by Greece at a technical meeting of the Council, held on 9 January. This realistic approach was broadly supported by the member states.


The legislative work on e-identification is already well underway: two three-way talks between the European Commission, the Council and Parliament's rapporteur, Swedish Socialist Marita Ulvskog, have already taken place. The next meeting is expected to be held on 28 January. Parliament plans to vote on the topic in plenary session on 3 April and the Telecoms Council will vote during its only meeting this quarter, on 5-6 June in Luxembourg. The eIDAS regulation, proposed in June 2012, is aimed at facilitating and securing online shopping as well as the transmission of official documents.


The proposal to reduce the cost of access to infrastructures for high-speed broadband has only just reached the negotiations stage. On 28 November 2013, Parliament's Committee on Industry (ITRE) mandated Hungarian Socialist Edit Herczog to start talks with the Council and the European Commission. The first three-way talks are scheduled for 30 January and the following will no doubt be on 24 February. In principle, the European Parliament will vote on first reading on 2 April and the Council will vote at its 5-6 June meeting. In short, the proposal, presented in March 2013 by the Commission, essentially aims to prevent various network operators from opening pavements several times, incurring engineering costs for high-speed broadband development.

During works, the text has already shape-shifted legally speaking, as it will now be a directive rather than a regulation. Legislative negotiations look to be tricky as member states find the proposals "disproportionate" in relation to the expected impact. However, MEPs tend to harden constraints, in particular for building equipment.


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