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The European Commission frequently irks two or three member states with its directives, but it is quite an achievement to upset all the major EC members. But that is what the Bruxelloise have done with their directive deregulating the sale of consumer telecomunications equipment, issued at a West Berlin meeting last month. Peter Sutherland, EC Commissioner for competition policy, invoked Article 90 of the Treaty of Rome which enables the Commission to legislate without consulting ministers and Members of the European Parliament first, and the provisions therefore took effect almost immediately. The order sets a December 1990 deadline for EC governments to end the monopoly of their PTTs over certain communication products including computer modems in Spain and communications controllers in Italy. The big three France, West Germany and the UK oppose the undemocratic way the ruling has been meted out and fear it could set a precedent for the passage of future deregulation laws over the heads of governments of member states. Brussels has told the operators that it means business and certainly would like to repeat the process when it moves to deregulate the enormous Euromarket for telecommunications services.

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