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Monday, 17 November 2003 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Trans-European networks

  Gill (PSE ). Madam President, I also wish to congratulate both the rapporteurs on good and timely reports.

Speaking mainly on Mr Clegg's report, one of the greatest obstacles to investment and competition in the telecoms market throughout Europe has been the lack of consistency and application in regulation. The differing requirements, and consequently the differing costs, have deterred new operators from starting up operations alongside existing ones. As a result, it has stifled the market and reduced competition. Therefore, I welcome this new regulatory package as it proposes changes by generating a consistent approach with the aim of liberalising the telecoms market. It provides a unique opportunity for all the governments to set the standards in a developing market and to finally begin fulfilling the goals we set at Lisbon, which have been all too slow to be realised.

Today's buzzword in the telecoms arena is 'implementation'. This is the key issue, more so now than before, as the sector is showing positive signs of stabilising. However, I fully support the rapporteur in questioning the Commission as to why it is that only five Member States have met the deadline for the transfer of the new regulatory package this year and why the Commission has been very slow in responding to this. What exactly is it proposing to do? The Commission needs to be tougher. We need action from the Commission, not just words, because delays not only penalise both new entrants and incumbents, but also put up barriers to the National Regulatory Authorities and the collation of information from the market players. We have to move on and we need proper market analysis on which we can base further action.

I am also extremely disappointed at the slow development of broadband. I have been contacted by numerous people in the West Midlands who have expressed their concerns about this moving at a snail's pace and the need to address that, especially in some rural areas.

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