On November 27, 2008, the Council of the European Union adopted a common position on proposed changes to the electronic communications regulatory framework. The package remains highly controversial, however, as three Member States abstained (UK, Sweden, and The Netherlands) and the European Commission remains disappointed that some of its key proposals were rejected by the Member States. The proposals now go back to the European Parliament for a second reading in April 2009, and a number of outstanding issues will require much attention. DG INFSO Commissioner Viviane Reding continues to defend her "much more ambitious" proposals, but the Council declined to approve giving the Commission a veto power over national regulatory remedies. The Council also seriously cut back on Ms. Reding’s concept of a new European regulator, which even the Parliament had refused back in September.
The Commission appeared ready to accept that defeat, but it is much more concerned over the Council’s rejection of Commission authority to harmonize licensing and conditions for pan-European services, as well as expanded Commission involvement with radio spectrum management.
Nor did the Council guarantee the independence of national telecoms regulators as far as the Commission wanted. Numerous other major issues are raised by the Council common position on the regulatory framework.
Moreover, at the same meeting the Council approved a Commission proposal to cut the cost of SMS and data roaming, as well as reviewed two Commission papers on the future of universal service and of the Internet.