The governing body of the European Community Monday criticized the United States for keeping it on a list of trade partners considered trade offenders in the telecommunications sector.

According to a statement by the EC Commission, the 12-nation group "made substantial progress" in tearing down telecommunications trade barriers in 1989, and "regretted" that it had not been struck off the U.S. list of telecommunications trade offenders.The United States first put the EC on its so-called priority list in 1986 after U.S. companies said EC governments had unfair procurement policies and complained they were locked out of the EC's telecommunications equipment and services markets.

According to EC officials, U.S. telecommunications exports to the EC rose to $788 million in 1988 from $569 million in 1987 as a result of the market- opening measures. During the same period, the EC exported $370 million worth of equipment to the United States, up from $243 million.

Under its trade laws, the United States last week had to either impose counter measures against the EC for its telecommunications policy, drop its name from the list, or extend its place on the list for another year.

The commission said the measures taken so far to open its telecommunication s market justified being removed from the U.S. list. Officials said the EC market for telecommunications equipment has been open since 1988, and they argue that EC governments have agreed in principle to open telecommunications markets for services and in public procurement.

A U.S. official, who asked not to be identified, said he was not surprised by the commission's reaction.

But he said that while progress has been made in opening up the market for telecommunications equipment, advances so far in services and public procurement amount to "preliminary political steps" that could not justify removing the EC from the priority list of trade offenders.