European competition commissioner Karel Van Miert said he will not authorise the planned links between the AT&T-backed Unisource alliance of telcos, and Telecom Italia, unless the Italian market is genuinely open.
Speaking at a news conference, Van Miert said Italy was one of the markets where he is worried that the authorities have failed to implement the measures for 1 January 1998 liberalisation.
"The Italian market needs to be opened up. There will be no authorisation for (AT&T's links with Telecom Italia) unless this is the case. And it will not just be a case of accepting promises," he said.
However, Van Miert said he wanted to underline that the current Italian government has made considerable efforts to meet its commitments on telecomms but that it is paying for the mistakes of the past.
The Commission's concerns on unreadiness for liberalisation centre on Italy and Belgium, and those countries that are allowed to delay after 1 January, but which must introduce earlier steps in liberalisation, he said.
Unisource is a joint venture between PTT Nederland, Telia AB and Swiss Telecom.
Van Miert said a number of problems identified by the Commission have been resolved. These include a Spanish plan for new telecomms infrastructure, a Danish solution for its interconnection errors, and in Italy, publication of the Telecom Act, he said.
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