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March 9, 1988

EEC PUSHES FOR FASTER TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEREGULATION

By CBR Staff Writer

A meeting of the European Commission last week in Brussels decided to speed some of the Green Paper recommendations for the liberalisation of the telecommunications market. The PABX market was singled out for this acceleration and full competition is now expected by the end of 1990 at the latest, although other services including teletext and packet switched circuits could be subject to delay. Liberalisation is now expected to spread across a total of 24 nations and beyond the boundaries of the Community, which has 12 members. But Commission vice-president Karl Heinz Narjes expressed fears that the current disregard of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade rules by certain nations could limit the impact of the European deregulation, when it happens: The question of the future regulation of the telecommunications sector is, of course, very closely linked to the development of international trade relations he said, adding in reference to Japan that the pain barrier has been reached. The Uruguay round of GATT talks due for completion in 1990 is mooting general principles to govern trade in services for the first time and Narjes called for telecomms to be considered as a special sector. Bi-lateral agreements between Japan and US could destroy the existing network of international telecom arrangements, which could become the scene of new ruptures and battlelines which benefit no one, he warned. Sad to say, however, even in the much more competitive world envisaged by the Commission, luddite PTTs will be permitted to retain their phone monopoly.

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