PositionNeelie Kroes

On the eve of the Digital Agenda Assembly organised by the European Commission and the Irish Presidency in Dublin, Ireland, on 19-20 June, Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, on 17 June, set out her ambitions for the single telecoms market package to a packed audience in Brussels. Armed with the vision of a borderless market in Europe, Kroes introduced an open debate with stakeholders by presenting compelling arguments on why telecoms companies should think European and compete globally. At the same time, she said, "European consumers should get more of what they need and want".

The telecoms package, the subject of an orientation discussion in the College of Commissioners last week, has reportedly received a lukewarm response. The date for presenting the final package has been pencilled in for 4 September with insiders suggesting that it may be substantially revised. In light of several setbacks faced by Commissioner Kroes in recent months, critics say that there is insufficient appetite for the package in more than one capital's senior political circles.

Funding of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a broadband project, was slashed from 9 billion to 1 billion. Further, Kroes' proposed measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks by addressing the central issue of civil engineering, were also trimmed. "Several big policy announcements have run into opposition with member states," points out James Thomson, principal analyst at Cullen International. "If you take the CEF, 9 billion is not a huge amount of money in the overall EU budget, which over seven years is something like 1 trillion. If the member states really wanted it they could have found...

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