UK telecomms and small business minister Barbara Roche said she will use the UK's six-month EU presidency to ensure that EU liberalisation is "a reality".
Roche was speaking at a European Commission event to mark the EU's liberalisation of telecomms from 1 January, 1998. She added that other priorities of the UK's presidency are mobile communications and electronic commerce.
"Our experience in the UK has proved that it is vital to have a strong independent regulator. Oftel (the UK regulator) has helped to create a competitive market in the UK," Roche said.
"We want national regulators and the Commission to make sure that what is agreed in Brussels is applied in the member states so that telecomms liberalisation is a reality and not just on paper," she said. "We look to the Commission to use its treaty powers with member states and operators to ensure they carry out their obligations."
The introduction of liberalisation does not mean the EU's involvement in telecomms has ended and the UK is looking forward to promoting early EU-wide introduction of third generation mobile communication services, Roche said.
"It should be European-wide system, allowing for cross-border roaming and based on a single standard. This could make another European success story like GSM was," she added.
Third generation mobile communications will include multimedia but the industry has yet to agree a single standard and is discussing two alternative standards, one supported by Ericsson and Nokia, the other by Siemens and Alcatel Alsthom (see previous stories).
Another UK priority is the Commission's proposal for a directive on digital signatures, which will "be essential if we are to seize the opportunities of electronic commerce", Roche said. In her small business role, she is particularly interested in the potential of ecommerce to give smaller companies the chance to compete against large ones.
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