The Czech Presidency will be faced with the difficult task of finding a compromise between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission on the reform of EU telecoms legislation: the telecoms package, which is expected to come into force by 2010. It promises to be an arduous endeavour given that the three institutions currently hold very different positions on the subject.

Moreover, the task promises to be made even tougher given the traditional liberal views of the Czechs, who are little inclined to push for anything more than the minimum compromise reached on first reading at the Telecoms Council, on 27 November. In addition, along with Spain, the Czech Republic voted against a proposed regulation to cap charges for text messages sent and internet data downloaded in other EU countries (roaming).

But when it comes to mobile telephony and the telecoms package, the Czech Presidency will have to put national interests aside and knuckle down to negotiations since the Parliament will be pushing to reach agreement before campaigning starts for the June European elections.

At the beginning of November, the Commission tabled a modified proposal taking into account all the important amendments put forward by the European Parliament, including the creation of a European telecoms agency, which had been widely supported by MEPs. The Council, on the other hand, wants to restrict the Commission's say in national regulatory measures to a simple opinion and, on 27 November, unanimously adopted a minimum version of the package. This rejects the idea of an EU-level structure, preferring a private legal support structure for...

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