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C 203 E/164 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 18.7.

2000

the experiences gained under Leader I and II are now ready to be passed into the mainstream rural
development programmes currently being prepared by Member States. The new Initiative Leader + will
help support excellence and innovation and will complement the mainstream programmes by promoting
integrated plans conceived and implemented by active partnerships operating at local level. The combina-
tion between them can contribute to the creation of synergies, in an integrated approach for the
development of the economy of Irish rural areas.

The Commission has communicated the draft Leader + guidelines to, amongst others, the STAR committee
and the Parliament. The final version will be adopted on receipt of the opinion of the STAR committee
and the views of the Parliament. This is likely to be early in the year 2000.

(2000/C 203 E/211) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2319/99


by Gunilla Carlsson (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(29 November 1999)

Subject: Liberalisation of the telecoms sector in Sweden

Sweden has far-reaching plans to introduce legislation forcing all public- and private-sector owners of
mobile telephone networks to allow service providers access to their infrastructures, in which they have
invested heavily and which they have developed in a competitive environment.

Does the Commission intend to allow such an infringement of the principle of competition on an equal
footing to take place?

How does it plan to ensure that willingness to invest in mobile network capacity remains as high as it has
been, in view of the major new requirements stemming from the introduction of UMTS?

What view does it take of regulating the distinction between network operators and service providers in
this way?

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(13 December 1999)

The Commission is aware of the proposals in Sweden for legislation governing access by service providers
to the networks of licensed mobile operators. However, it understands that the final scope and conditions
of such legislation have yet to be determined.

The Commission recognises that regulation both at Community and Member State level should be kept to
a minimum. As stated in the Commission’s recent communication on the 1999 communications review
(‘Towards a new framework for electronic communications infrastructure and associated services’) (1), an
‘unduly restrictive regulatory system risks acting as a brake on investment or may fail to stimulate
sustainable investment. Much of the current regulatory framework addresses the need to create a
competitive market, for example by requiring incumbent operators to meet all requests for access to and
interconnection with its network. Once a competitive market is effectively established, many of these
provisions should no longer be necessary and it would therefore be sufficient to rely mainly on the
application of the competition rules of the EC Treaty’.

The current Directive 97/33/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 1997 on interconnection
in Telecommunications with regard to ensuring universal service and interoperability through application
of the principles of Open Network Provision (ONP) (2) provides in Article 4(2) that ‘organisations
authorised to provide public telecommunications networks and publicly available telecommunications
services as set out in Annex I which have significant market power shall meet all reasonable requests for
access to the network including access at points other than the network termination points offered to the
majority of end users’. Under this provision, Member States may regulate for fair and reasonable access to
18.7.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 203 E/165

the telecommunications networks (whether mobile or fixed) if this is necessary to ensure the overall
competitiveness of the market and the development of innovative new services.

The national authorities, with their detailed knowledge of the situation in the telecommunications markets
which they oversee, may therefore determine the precise conditions on which access to mobile networks
should be required, provided that these are consistent with the principles enshrined in the EC Treaty,
particularly the competition rules, and the regulatory framework established at Community level. These
conditions would only be contrary to the competition rules if it could be shown that the relevant
requirements would limit the ability of non-dominant network operators to compete, for example by
preventing them from benefiting from the advantages of vertical integration of network and service
provision. The Commission has encouraged the Member States to consult their national competition
authorities on such measures.

The Commission recognises that the pricing of access is critical and should provide the necessary
incentives in the medium and longer term for facility owners to undertake future infrastructure investment.

As regards the distinction between mobile network operators and service providers, Community law
currently allows Member States to apply different licensing conditions. However, they should ensure that
any distinction does not lead to market distortions.

(1) COM(1999) 539 final.


(2) OJ L 199, 26.7.1997.

(2000/C 203 E/212) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2340/99

by Alexandros Alavanos (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(13 December 1999)

Subject: Protection of the Elgin Marbles

For a fee, the British Museum in London makes available to ‘wealthy and serious sponsors’ the room
containing the Elgin Marbles for official banquets, requiring payment of security against possible damage.
The Elgin Marbles however are known to belong to the Parthenon which has been designated by Unesco
as part of the world heritage.

Since by this practice the British Museum is failing to show the respect due to a part of the world heritage
and is actually placing the Marbles in danger, as evidenced by the security required by the British Museum
against possible damage, what steps will the Commission take to meet its obligations under Article 128 of
the EU Treaty requiring it to help in the ‘conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage of European
significance’ with a view to protecting the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum?

Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission

(13 January 2000)

Article 151 (ex-Article 128) of the EC Treaty gives the Community the power to encourage cooperation in
the area of culture. The question raised by the Honourable Member is outside the Community’s field of
competence but, by virtue of the principle of subsidiarity, is the exclusive responsibility of the Member
States.