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Governing Telecommunications and the New Information Society in Europe

Edited by Jacint Jordana

European countries have recently been involved in an extremely broad set of regulatory changes to introduce competitive markets into the area of telecommunications. New policies to develop the information society in Europe are also emerging, taking into account the changes in regulations. The contributions included in this book examine several dimensions of these major European issues, including multi-level governance, the instruments used to produce these policy changes, and the European idiosyncrasies of globalisation trends.
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Chapter 6: Normative Foundations of Electronic Communications Policy in the European Union

Johannes M. Bauer


3802_GovernTelecom/Chap 6 22/8/02 8:56 am Page 1 6. Normative foundations of electronic communications policy in the European Union Johannes M. Bauer 1. INTRODUCTION European telecommunications policy has gone through a major metamorphosis since the beginning of the 1980s. During these two decades, the traditional monopoly-based public service model was gradually replaced by a pro-competitive approach. Several factors contributed to this substantial transformation of European telecommunications policy. Technological changes, inherent inefficiencies, and a growing scepticism about the ability of the public sector to supply telecommunications services efficiently exposed the weaknesses of the public service model. Community institutions, less tied to national policy compacts, became the main promoters of market-based reform. Slowly, policymakers at the national and European levels adopted the notion that competition, rather than monopoly, would maximise the benefits of the ICT for society. After more than a decade of policies designed to facilitate the transition to competition, in 1999 the European Commission initiated a thorough review of the legal and regulatory model. This review intended to define the contours of a successor regulatory regime that could be put into place after the transition to a more open market environment had been completed. Telecommunications liberalisation was initially seen as part of the common market project. Beginning in the mid 1990s it was increasingly seen as a precondition for the development of a vibrant European ‘information society’. A first formulation of a European approach to the Information Society was expressed in the Delors Paper of 1993 (European Commission 1993)...

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