General framework

/ Updated on 13.07.2009

The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) was established on 26 June 1959 with the signing of an agreement of incorporation ("Arrangement") by the representatives of 23 Postal and Telecommunications Administrations of 19 European countries. The Portuguese Administration, represented by CTT (the Portuguese postal and telecommunications administration at the time), was among these signatories.

The CEPT, which currently includes the administrations of 46 European countries, operates according to the spirit of the fundamental statutory instruments of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), with the key objectives of strengthening relationships between member Administrations, technical and regulatory harmonization and the coordination of European regional positions for the work of these two organisations (ITU and UPU).

Following the recent restructuring of the organization, begun at the Amsterdam Assembly in June 2007, a new tripartite Presidency model entered into force on 20 March 2009, formed by the chairmen of the three main committees of the organization: the Electronic Communications Committee (ECC), European Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP) and the newly created Committee for ITU Policy (Com-ITU, former Working Group on ITU Affairs - ITU WG). With this reform, the annual rotating Presidency was discontinued, as was the Troika, which ensured continuation between Administrations.

The structural changes put in place in 2009 again illustrate the capacity of the CEPT to adapt and respond to the new challenges which it faces on a global scale. Back in 1992, having regard to the need to separate tasks related to strategic policies and regulation and purely operational tasks, both centralized in the Administrations, the first significant change took place. Consequently, a process of independence was begun by the public post and telecommunications operators, which went on to set up their own organisations: then in 1988, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) was set up, taking on the CEPT's standardization activities. This was followed by the creation of the Association of European Public Postal Operators (PostEurop) and the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO).

After the main functions of the CEPT were redefined in 1995, making it a European forum for the discussion of matters related to the regulation of the postal and telecommunications sectors, in June 2000, the Plenary Assembly decided to strengthen the CEPT's political and strategic activities. As such, it was considered necessary to conduct a reorganisation, which was approved by the Plenary Assembly in September 2001.

Until the Plenary Assembly of September 2001, the CEPT had based its activities on three committees: the European Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP), the European Committee for Regulatory Telecommunications Affairs (ECTRA) and the European Radiocommunications Committee (ERC). At this Assembly, the two latter committees were replaced by a single committee- the Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) - which met for the first time in November 2001. The permanent committees of the CEPT work towards the harmonization of the activities of the various members and the adoption of decisions and recommendations, prepared by working groups (WG) and project teams (PT).

Under ECTRA and the ERC, the European Telecommunications Office (ETO) and the European Radiocommunications Office (ERO) were born, in 1991 and 1994 respectively, in order to respond to an increasing number of requests of a permanent nature.

As part of the CEPT's overall reform process, which led to the merger of the ERC and ECTRA, approval was given to the merger of the two offices, ERO and ETO, into a single office, called the European Communications Office (ECO), which in practice began operating on 1 July 2009. Meanwhile, as an international treaty, ratification and entry into force will entail a lengthy legal process.

The new model now adopted maintains the Electronic Communications Committee (ECC), which discusses and develops policies for the regulation of electronic communications in the European context, and promotes the harmonization of the efficient use of the radio spectrum, satellite orbits and numbering resources. The ECC works closely with the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The structure comprises five WGs and a large number of PTs.

The European Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP) is also maintained, dedicated to the analysis and discussion of matters related to postal regulation, with particular attention to the issues under discussion at the level of the European Union and the Universal Postal Union.  This Committee also required some restructuring of its operations, including at the Plenary in Athens (October 2008), which established the current structure of the CERP with nine PTs and two WGs which, in turn, report to the Plenary. However, the practical applicability of this new structure is currently being assessed and will be subject to review after a year, at the October 2009 Plenary.

The former ITU Affairs Working Group, responsible for political and strategic issues related to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), was also renamed (becoming the Committee for ITU Policy - Com-ITU), along the same lines as the ECC and CERP.

The basic instruments of the CEPT are the ''Arrangement'', which is the agreement establishing the CEPT, setting out the general principles, and the Rules of Procedure, which governs the structure and functioning of the organisation's bodies. The current management of the organization is provided by the tripartite Presidency formed by the ECC / CERP and Com-ITU, with the support of the Office (ECO), whose legal basis is set out in a Convention.


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