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Procedure : 2000/0183(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A5-0438/2001

Texts tabled :

A5-0438/2001

Debates :

Votes :

Texts adopted :

P5_TA(2001)0679

Texts adopted
Wednesday, 12 December 2001 - Strasbourg
Universal service and users' rights relating to electronic communications networks and services ***II
P5_TA(2001)0679A5-0438/2001

European Parliament legislative resolution on the Council common position with a view to the adoption of a European Parliament and Council directive on universal service and users' rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive) (10421/1/2001 - C5-0418/2001 - 2000/0183(COD) )

(Codecision procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to the Council common position (10421/1/2001 - C5-0418/2001 (1) ),

-  having regard to its position at first reading(2) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2000) 392 (3) ),

-  having regard to the Commission's amended proposal (COM(2001) 503 (4) ),

-  having regard to Article 251(2) of the EC Treaty,

-  having regard to Rule 80 of its Rules of Procedure,

-  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market (A5-0438/2001 ),

1.  Amends the common position as follows;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

Council common position   Amendments by Parliament
Amendment 1
Recital 13
   (13) Member States should take suitable measures in order to guarantee access to and affordability of all publicly available telephone services at a fixed location for disabled users and users with special social needs. Specific measures for disabled users could include, as appropriate, making available public text telephones or equivalent measures for deaf or speech impaired people, providing services such as directory enquiry services or equivalent measures free of charge for blind or partially sighted people, and providing itemised bills in alternative format on request for blind or partially sighted people. Specific measures may also need to be taken to enable disabled users and users with special social needs to access emergency services ”112" and to give them a similar possibility to choose between different operators or service providers as other consumers. The provider of universal service should not take measures to prevent users from benefiting fully from services offered by different operators or service providers, in combination with its own services offered as part of universal service.
   (13) Member States should take suitable measures in order to guarantee access to and affordability of all publicly available telephone services at a fixed location for disabled users and users with special social needs. Specific measures for disabled users could include, as appropriate, making available accessible public telephones, public text telephones or equivalent measures for deaf or speech impaired people, providing services such as directory enquiry services or equivalent measures free of charge for blind or partially sighted people, and providing itemised bills in alternative format on request for blind or partially sighted people. Specific measures may also need to be taken to enable disabled users and users with special social needs to access emergency services ”112" and to give them a similar possibility to choose between different operators or service providers as other consumers. Quality of service standards have been developed for a range of parameters to assess the quality of services received by subscribers and how well undertakings designated as having universal service obligations perform in achieving these standards. Quality of service standards do not yet exist in respect of disabled users. Performance standards and relevant parameters should be developed for disabled users and are foreseen in Article 11. Moreover, national regulatory authorities should be enabled to require publication of quality of service performance data if and when such standards and parameters are developed. The provider of universal service should not take measures to prevent users from benefiting fully from services offered by different operators or service providers, in combination with its own services offered as part of universal service.
Amendment 36
Recital 33
   (33) It is desirable to enable consumers to achieve the fullest connectivity possible to digital television sets. Interoperability is an evolving concept in dynamic markets. Standards bodies should do their utmost to ensure that appropriate standards evolve along with the technologies concerned. It is likewise important to ensure that connectors are available on television sets that are capable of passing all the necessary elements of a digital signal, including the audio and video streams, conditional access information, service information, application program interface (API) information and copy protection information. This Directive therefore ensures that the functionality of the open interface for digital television sets is not limited by network operators, service providers or equipment manufacturers and continues to evolve in line with technological developments.
   (33) It is desirable to enable consumers to achieve the fullest connectivity possible to digital television sets. Interoperability is an evolving concept in dynamic markets. Standards bodies should do their utmost to ensure that appropriate standards evolve along with the technologies concerned. It is likewise important to ensure that connectors are available on television sets that are capable of passing all the necessary elements of a digital signal, including the audio and video streams, conditional access information, service information, application program interface (API) information and copy protection information. This Directive therefore ensures that the functionality of the open interface for digital television sets is not limited by network operators, service providers or equipment manufacturers and continues to evolve in line with technological developments. For display and presentation of digital interactive television services, the realisation of a common standard through a market-driven mechanism is recognised as a consumer benefit. Member States and the Commission may take policy initiatives, consistent with the Treaty, to encourage this development.
Amendment 4
Recital 36
   (36) It is important that users should be able to call the single European emergency number ”112", and any other national emergency telephone numbers, free of charge, from any telephone, including public pay telephones, without the use of any means of payment. Member States should have already made the necessary organisational arrangements best suited to the national organisation of the emergency systems, in order to ensure that calls to this number are adequately answered and handled. Caller location information, to be made available to the emergency services, will improve the level of protection and the security of users of "112" services and assist the emergency services in the discharge of their duties, provided that the transfer of calls and associated data to the emergency services concerned is guaranteed. Steady information technology improvements will progressively support the simultaneous handling of several languages over the networks at a reasonable cost. This in turn will ensure additional safety for European citizens using the "112" emergency call number.
   (36) It is important that users should be able to call the single European emergency number ”112", and any other national emergency telephone numbers, free of charge, from any telephone, including public pay telephones, without the use of any means of payment. Member States should have already made the necessary organisational arrangements best suited to the national organisation of the emergency systems, in order to ensure that calls to this number are adequately answered and handled. Caller location information, to be made available to the emergency services to the extent technically feasible, will improve the level of protection and the security of users of "112" services and assist the emergency services in the discharge of their duties, provided that the transfer of calls and associated data to the emergency services concerned is guaranteed. The reception and use of such information should comply with Article 9 of Directive 2001/.../EC (Data Protection Directive). Steady information technology improvements will progressively support the simultaneous handling of several languages over the networks at a reasonable cost. This in turn will ensure additional safety for European citizens using the "112" emergency call number.
Amendment 6
Recital 43
   (43) Currently, Member States impose certain "must carry” obligations on networks for the distribution of radio or television broadcasts to the public. Member States should be able to lay down proportionate obligations on undertakings under their jurisdiction, in the interest of legitimate public policy considerations, but such obligations should only be imposed where they are necessary to meet general interest objectives clearly defined by Member States in conformity with Community law and should be proportionate, transparent and subject to periodical review. "Must carry” obligations imposed by Member States should be reasonable, that is they should be proportionate and transparent in the light of clearly defined general interest objectives, and could, where appropriate, entail a provision for proportionate remuneration.
   (43) Currently, Member States impose certain "must carry” obligations on networks for the distribution of radio or television broadcasts to the public. Member States should be able to lay down proportionate obligations on undertakings under their jurisdiction, in the interest of legitimate public policy considerations, but such obligations should only be imposed where they are necessary to meet general interest objectives clearly defined by Member States in conformity with Community law and should be proportionate, transparent and subject to periodical review. "Must carry” obligations imposed by Member States should be reasonable, that is they should be proportionate and transparent in the light of clearly defined general interest objectives, and could, where appropriate, entail a provision for proportionate remuneration. Such "must carry" obligations may include the transmission of services specifically designed to enable appropriate access by disabled users.
Amendment 7
Recital 47
   (47) In the context of a competitive environment, the views of interested parties, including users and consumers, should be taken into account by national regulatory authorities when dealing with issues related to end-users' rights. Effective procedures should be available to deal with disputes between at least consumers, on the one hand, and undertakings providing publicly available communications services, on the other. Member States should take full account of Commission Recommendation 98/257/EC of 30 March 1998 on the principles applicable to the bodies responsible for out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes.
   (47) In the context of a competitive environment, the views of interested parties, including users and consumers, should be taken into account by national regulatory authorities when dealing with issues related to end-users' rights. Effective procedures should be available to deal with disputes between consumers, on the one hand, and undertakings providing publicly available communications services, on the other. Member States should take full account of Commission Recommendation 98/257/EC of 30 March 1998 on the principles applicable to the bodies responsible for out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes.
Amendment 8
Recital 47 a (new)
(47a) Co-regulation could be an appropriate way of stimulating enhanced quality standards and improved service performance. Co-regulation should be guided by the same principles as formal regulation, that is, it should be objective, justified, proportionate, non-discriminatory and transparent.
Amendment 9
Recital 47 b (new)
(47b) This Directive provides for elements of consumer protection, including clear contract terms and dispute resolution, and tariff transparency for consumers. It also encourages the extension of such benefits to other categories of end-users, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises.
Amendment 10
Article 6, paragraph 1
   1. Member States shall ensure that national regulatory authorities can impose obligations on undertakings in order to ensure that public pay telephones are provided to meet the reasonable needs of end-users in terms of the geographical coverage, the number of telephones and the quality of services.
   1. Member States shall ensure that national regulatory authorities can impose obligations on undertakings in order to ensure that public pay telephones are provided to meet the reasonable needs of end-users in terms of the geographical coverage, the number of telephones, the accessibility of such telephones to disabled users and the quality of services.
Amendment 37
Article 9, paragraph 1
   1. National regulatory authorities shall monitor the evolution of retail tariffs of the services identified in Articles 4, 5, 6 and 7 as falling under the universal service obligations and provided by designated undertakings, in particular in relation to national consumer prices and income.
   1. National regulatory authorities shall monitor the evolution and level of retail tariffs of the services identified in Articles 4, 5, 6 and 7 as falling under the universal service obligations and provided by designated undertakings, in particular in relation to national consumer prices and income.
Amendment 13
Article 11, paragraph 1
   1. National regulatory authorities shall ensure that all designated undertakings with obligations under Articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9(2) publish adequate and up-to-date information concerning their performance in the provision of universal service, based on the quality of service parameters, definitions and measurement methods set out in Annex III. The published information shall also be supplied to the national regulatory authority. National regulatory authorities may specify, inter alia, the quality of service parameters to be measured, and the content, form and manner of information to be published, in order to ensure that end-users have access to comprehensive, comparable and user-friendly information.
   1. National regulatory authorities shall ensure that all designated undertakings with obligations under Articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9(2) publish adequate and up-to-date information concerning their performance in the provision of universal service, based on the quality of service parameters, definitions and measurement methods set out in Annex III. The published information shall also be supplied to the national regulatory authority.
1a. National regulatory authorities may specify, inter alia, additional quality of service standards, where relevant parameters have been developed, to assess the performance of undertakings in the provision of services to disabled end-users and disabled consumers. National regulatory authorities shall ensure that information concerning the performance of undertakings in relation to these parameters is also published and made available to the national regulatory authority.
1b. National regulatory authorities may, in addition, specify the content, form and manner of information to be published, in order to ensure that end-users and consumers have access to comprehensive, comparable and user-friendly information.
Amendment 15
Article 17, paragraph 1, point (b)
   (b) the national regulatory authority considers that obligations imposed under Directive 2001/.../EC (Access Directive), or Article 19 of this Directive would not result in the achievement of the objectives set out in Article 7 of Directive 2001/.../EC (Framework Directive),
   (b) the national regulatory authority concludes that obligations imposed under Directive 2001/.../EC (Access Directive), or Article 19 of this Directive would not result in the achievement of the objectives set out in Article 7 of Directive 2001/.../EC (Framework Directive),
Amendment 16
Article 17, paragraph 4
   4. National regulatory authorities shall ensure that, where an undertaking is subject to retail tariff regulation, the necessary and appropriate cost accounting systems are implemented. National regulatory authorities may specify the format and accounting methodology to be used. Compliance with the cost accounting system shall be verified by a qualified independent body. National regulatory authorities shall ensure that a statement concerning compliance is published annually.
   4. National regulatory authorities shall ensure that, where an undertaking is subject to retail tariff regulation or other relevant retail controls, the necessary and appropriate cost accounting systems are implemented. National regulatory authorities may specify the format and accounting methodology to be used. Compliance with the cost accounting system shall be verified by a qualified independent body. National regulatory authorities shall ensure that a statement concerning compliance is published annually.
Amendment 17
Article 20, paragraph 2, introduction
   2. Member States shall ensure that at least consumers where subscribing to services providing connection and/or access to the public telephone network, shall have a right to a contract with an undertaking or undertakings providing such services. The contract shall specify at least:
   2. Member States shall ensure that, where subscribing to services providing connection and/or access to the public telephone network, consumers have a right to a contract with an undertaking or undertakings providing such services. The contract shall specify at least:
Amendment 18
Article 20, paragraph 2, point (d)
   (d) the means by which up-to-date information on all applicable tariffs and maintenance charges may be obtained;
   (d) particulars of prices and tariffs and the means by which up-to-date information on all applicable tariffs and maintenance charges may be obtained;
Amendment 19
Article 20, paragraph 2, subparagraph 1 a (new)
Member States may extend these obligations to cover other end-users.
Amendment 20
Article 20, paragraph 3
   3. Where contracts are concluded between at least consumers and electronic communications services providers other than those providing connection and/or access to the public telephone network, the information in paragraph 2 shall also be included in such contracts.
   3. Where contracts are concluded between consumers and electronic communications services providers other than those providing connection and/or access to the public telephone network, the information in paragraph 2 shall also be included in such contracts. Member States may extend this obligation to cover other end-users.
Amendment 21
Article 21
Member States shall ensure that transparent and up-to-date information on applicable prices and tariffs, and on standard terms and conditions, in respect of access to and use of publicly available telephone services is available to the public, and particularly to all consumers, in accordance with the provisions of Annex II.
   1. Member States shall ensure that transparent and up-to-date information on applicable prices and tariffs, and on standard terms and conditions, in respect of access to and use of publicly available telephone services, is available to end-users and consumers in accordance with the provisions of Annex II.
Amendment 22
Article 21, paragraph 1 a (new)
1a. National regulatory authorities shall encourage the provision of information to enable end-users, as far as appropriate, and consumers to make an independent evaluation of the cost of alternative usage patterns, for instance by means of interactive guides.
Amendment 27
Article 33
Member States shall ensure as far as appropriate that national regulatory authorities take account of the views of end-users, manufacturers, undertakings that provide electronic communications networks and/or services on issues which have a significant impact on the market related to all end-user rights concerning publicly available electronic communications services.
   1. Member States shall ensure as far as appropriate that national regulatory authorities take account of the views of end-users and consumers (including, in particular, disabled users), manufacturers, undertakings that provide electronic communications networks and/or services on issues related to all end-user and consumer rights concerning publicly available electronic communications services, in particular where they have a significant impact on the market.
Amendment 28
Article 33, paragraph 1 a (new)
1a. Where appropriate, interested parties may, with the guidance of national regulatory authorities, develop mechanisms involving consumers, user groups and service providers to improve the general quality of service provision, inter alia by developing and monitoring codes of conduct and operating standards.
Amendment 29
Article 34, paragraph 1
   1. Member States shall ensure that transparent, simple and inexpensive out-of-court procedures are available for dealing with unresolved disputes, involving at least consumers, relating to issues covered by this Directive. Member States shall adopt measures to ensure that such procedures enable disputes to be settled fairly and promptly and may, where warranted, adopt a system of reimbursement and/or compensation.
   1. Member States shall ensure that transparent, simple and inexpensive out-of-court procedures are available for dealing with unresolved disputes, involving consumers, relating to issues covered by this Directive. Member States shall adopt measures to ensure that such procedures enable disputes to be settled fairly and promptly and may, where warranted, adopt a system of reimbursement and/or compensation. Member States may extend these obligations to cover disputes involving other end-users.
Amendment 30
Article 34, paragraph 1 a (new)
1a. Member States shall ensure that their legislation does not hamper the establishment of complaints offices and the provision of on-line services at the appropriate territorial level to facilitate access to dispute resolution by consumers and end-users.
Amendment 31
Annex I, Part B, point (b), paragraph 2 a (new)
To the extent technically feasible, operators should provide data and signals to facilitate the offering of calling-line identity and tone dialling across Member State boundaries.
Amendment 32
Annex II, introduction
The national regulatory authority has a responsibility to ensure that the information in this Annex is published, in accordance with Article 21. It is for the national regulatory authority to decide which information is to be published by the undertakings providing public telephone networks and/or publicly available telephone services and which information is to be published by the national regulatory authority itself.
The national regulatory authority has a responsibility to ensure that the information in this Annex is published, in accordance with Article 21. It is for the national regulatory authority to decide which information is to be published by the undertakings providing public telephone networks and/or publicly available telephone services and which information is to be published by the national regulatory authority itself, so as ensure that consumers are able to make informed choices.
Amendment 33
Annex II, point 3 a (new)
3a. Information about rights as regards universal service, including the facilities and services mentioned in Annex I.

(1) OJ C 337, 30.11.2001, p.55.
(2) Texts Adopted of 13.6.2001, Item 7.
(3) OJ C 365 E, 19.12.2000, p. 238.
(4) OJ C 332 E, 27.11.2001, p. 292.

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