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Thursday, September 16, 2021

EU Commission wants to know when spectrum is available in digital push

Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for a Europe fit for the Digital Age (Competition) Margrethe Vestager gives a press conference at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium June 3, 2021. Stephanie Lecocq/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS, Sept 15 (Reuters) – EU countries will have to provide more clarity on the use and availability of radio spectrum to help the bloc meet its digital targets, the European Commission said on Wednesday, accelerating a push to reduce reliance on U.S and Chinese technologies.

The EU executive also wants to spur European Union countries to achieve ambitious digital targets with yearly reports that could expose who the laggards are.

It proposed that EU countries pool resources on 5G, data, low power processors and blockchain projects, among others, making it easier for them to raise funding from existing EU programmes and private investors.

“So today we propose a concrete plan to achieve the digital transformation,” Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “We must ensure that Europe is not in a position of great dependence in the years to come. Otherwise, we will remain too exposed to the ups and downs of the world, and miss out on economic growth and job creation.”

Telecoms providers have long asked for more spectrum to deploy 5G mobile data services while governments see frequencies as cash cows, with many raising billions of euros from spectrum auctions.

More clarity on when spectrum would be made available and how it will be used would increase legal certainty and investment predictability, the Commission said.

The EU executive said it wanted to set up a digital economy and society index (DESI) to monitor countries’ progress on meeting their digital goals via key performance indicators. Laggards would have to take additional measures to catch up.

The Commission’s proposal needs agreement from EU countries and the European Parliament before it can be implemented.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Edmund Blair

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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