Tuesday, 29 December 2009

EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS Directive): Learning the ropes

In the previous blog post, EU Audiovisual Media Services: History, amendments & consolidation (28 December 2009), we sketched the history from the Television without Frontiers Directive 1989 to the “new”, amending TVWF Directive 1997.


In this context we mentioned the consolidated version of the Directive. One of the many useful EU web resources for people willing to learn is the Europa Glossary, which offers more or less intelligible explanations of EU jargon and terms.

Here is what Europa Glossary has to say on consolidation of legislation (informal or declaratory):

There is a special procedure for unofficial, purely declaratory consolidation of legislation and simplification of legal instruments. The incorporation of subsequent amendments into the body of a basic act does not entail the adoption of a new instrument. It is simply a clarification exercise conducted by the Commission. The resulting text, which has no formal legal effect, can, where appropriate, be published in the Official Journal (C Series) without citations or recitals.

In other words, the consolidated version offers you the updated text of the Articles in force. In the 1997 consolidation, the text of Directive 97/36 had been inserted into Directive 89/552.

But if you need to know the Whys of the legal Act, you have read the Recitals (Whereas) of the original Act, as well as the Recitals of the amending Act(s) with regard to the reasons and scope of the amendments.

If you want to dig deeper, the Recitals offer you the legislative history of the Acts: “legal basis”, references to the Commission proposal, opinions and resolutions. For this you need either the original Acts or to access the files on the legislative processes on Pre-Lex or Oeil.

Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS Directive)

In this case, we knew that there was a further major amendment to the TVWF Directive(s). We knew the number of the original TVWF Directive 89/552 (the amending Directive 97/36) and the latest amending AVMS Directive 2007/65.

Since we were interested in the latest amendment, we tried the simple search on Eur-Lex, filling in Directive, year 2007 and number 65 for the amending Directive under Natural number.

The page offered us access to the Bibliographic notice, which gave us the procedure number COD/2005/0260 and the Commission’s original proposal COM(2005) 646, among other things. There was also a link to the European Parliament’s Legislative Observatory Oeil.

The procedure file on Oeil is a gold mine, because at one glance it offers a view of the Commission’s original and modified proposals, the Council’s position and the European Parliament’s Committee reports and resolutions.

Procedure and substance

This blog post tried to offer readers examples of how to navigate the legislative procedures, in order to access and to understand EEC/EC/EU legal acts.

Procedural understanding offers generally applicable tools for interested users, but this mini-series started from a genuine interest into the substance of developing EU regulation of television broadcasting and audiovisual services.

The time has come, I think, to turn to the substance of the latest amending act, the AVMS Directive.

This will be the aim of future posts, intertwined with procedural remarks, when called for.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Read Julien Frisch and other great euroblog(ger)s listed on multilingual Bloggingportal.eu, our common “village well” for fact, opinion and gossip on European affairs.