[AfrICANN-discuss] elecoms Reform: Parliament vote paves way for Single Telecoms Market in Europe

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Wed Sep 24 18:11:48 SAST 2008

Telecoms Reform: Parliament vote paves way for Single Telecoms Market in
Reference:  MEMO/08/581    Date:  24/09/2008


Brussels, 24 September 2008
*Telecoms Reform: Parliament vote paves way for Single Telecoms Market in
Europe**Today the European Parliament in its plenary session voted on the
European Commission's proposals of November 2007 to reform the EU Telecom
rules, in place since 2003. The EU Telecoms Reform aims to create a Single
EU Telecoms Market with improved rights for consumers and businesses by
reinforcing competition and investment and boosting the take-up of
cross-border services and wireless high-speed broadband for all.*

*"Today's vote is good news for European consumers,"* said Viviane Reding,
the EU Telecoms Commissioner. *"The European Parliament has today voted in
favour of a strong and competitive Single Telecoms Market without borders
for cross-border services, competition and investment in Europe. This will
level the playing field for telecoms operators in Europe, enhance legal
certainty, and broaden consumer choice."*

*"Yesterday, the European Commission had to propose new rules to bring down
the excessive prices of SMS and data roaming in the EU (IP/08/1386). These
proposals will provide a fast cure to one of the most dramatic symptoms of
the lack of a single telecoms market under which European companies and
consumers are suffering at the moment. Today, the European Parliament has
gone an important step further by proposing to tackle once and for all the
root of the problem: by paving the way for a single market in regulatory

*"I welcome in particular the fact that, after an intense debate, the
European Parliament today voted in favour of establishing a European
telecoms regulator. Although the new body is smaller than proposed by the
Commission – it will not have any responsibility for network security, which
I regret – the Parliament's amendments have made sure that the new European
telecoms regulator will be fit for purpose, namely to deal efficiently with
the remaining business obstacles and consumer problems in the single market.
I welcome in particular that Parliament has confirmed that the new body will
be financed from the EU budget in order to strengthen its independence and
to ensure equality among national regulators. The European Parliamentarians
also ensured that the new European telecoms regulator will be able to
operate independently in the interest of everyone in the EU while at the
same time being sufficiently close to the market. The proposal that half of
the European telecoms regulator's staff should be seconded from national
telecoms regulators, thus working alongside experts which the new European
body would recruit itself, is a very constructive improvement on the
Commission's initial proposal that I fully support."*

*"Although work is still needed on the details, I support the Parliament's
proposal to modify the Article 7 procedure. By voting for a system of
'checks and balances' Parliament ensures that measures proposed by a
national telecoms regulator – like market analyses and regulatory remedies –
cannot be adopted when called into question by both the new European
telecoms regulator and the European Commission. In so doing, Parliament has
found a sound compromise between consistency and subsidiarity in the
interest of an efficiently functioning Single Market that I very much

*"I also thank Parliament for its strong support for greater independence of
national regulators. Independent national regulators are the backbone of an
efficient application of telecoms rules for fair competition and tangible
consumer benefits. Despite its importance, in reality it cannot be taken for
granted, as seen last week with the surprisingly blunt interference with the
independence of the Romanian telecoms regulator."*

*"I strongly welcome the European Parliament's support for adding the new
remedy of functional separation – which requires an incumbent operator to
separate its network infrastructure from its services branch – to the
toolbox of national regulators. This last-resort remedy has the capacity to
rapidly improve competition in markets while maintaining incentives for
investment in new networks, as shown in the UK where it has already been
implemented. The Parliament's vote will contribute legal certainty to
countries where functional separation is already under discussion,
especially Sweden, Poland and Greece."*

*"At the same time, the European Parliament has today opened new
opportunities for investment in high-speed fibre optical broadband networks.
The Parliament has confirmed and reinforced EU law on this important matter.
On the one hand, it has clearly rejected all calls for 'regulatory
holidays', as new monopolies would stifle competition and investment into
fibre. On the other hand, it wants telecoms operators to receive a fair
return on investment for allowing access to new fibre optic networks,
including a substantial risk premium. I welcome this, and the Commission
intends to give more detailed regulatory guidance on such next generation
access networks at the beginning of next year."

*"Competition brings lower prices, better-quality services and more choice,
so consumers are the real winners in today's vote. Increased transparency
and information for consumers, better access to services for users with
disabilities, a more efficient 112 European emergency number and number
portability within one day – all these Commission proposals have received
strong support in Parliament, for which I am very grateful."*

*"Some important questions remain open. On number portability – the
consumer's ability to change their fixed or mobile operator while keeping
their phone number – I welcome the Parliament's overall approach supporting
the one-day limit proposed by the Commission. But we need to ensure that the
option now given to national regulators to extend the period for number
portability will not reduce the benefits of a competitive market where
consumers benefit from choosing different operators when they make better

*"More will also have to be done on spectrum policy if we want to attract
investment to new wireless services in Europe. The Commission's proposal to
reform the management of radio spectrum intends to facilitate the roll out
of such services, especially high speed wireless broadband connections that
can reach less populated and rural areas to help achieve 'Broadband for All'
in Europe. I welcome the support expressed by the European Parliament for
more flexibility and harmonisation in spectrum use, but I hope that even
more ambitious solutions can be agreed so that Europe gets the most
efficient and consistent management of spectrum possible in order to bring
about 'Broadband for All Europeans'. I also support Parliament's intention
to increase its involvement in the EU's spectrum strategy, and will continue
to work with Parliament and Council to reach a satisfactory solution that
provides more certainty for forthcoming EU decisions on distributing the
so-called 'digital dividend' - the additional radio spectrum made available
as a result of the transition from analogue to digital TV."*

*"I would like to thank the rapporteurs in the ITRE Committee, Catherine
Trautmann (France, PSE) and Pilar del Castillo Vera (Spain, EPP-ED) and in
the IMCO Committee, Malcolm Harbour (United Kingdom, EPP-ED), for their
constructive work. The Parliament's reports, as adopted today by its
plenary, are a very solid basis for its negotiations with the Council of
Telecoms Ministers."*

*"I will now continue working with the European Parliament and the Council
to ensure the adoption of the package before the end of this Parliament's
term in 2009. Agreement is needed if consumers are to be adequately
protected in a Single EU Telecoms Market and if operators can expect Europe
to offer them a level playing field for telecoms investments."*


The European Commission tabled its proposals for the reform of the Telecoms
Reform Package on 13 November 2007
Before the summer, the Council of Telecoms Ministers expressed its views on
the Commission proposals
, MEMO/08/384<http://www.europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/08/384&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en>)
and the European Parliament debated the reform first at Committee level
(MEMO/08/491) and then during its plenary session on 2 September. Following
today's European Parliament vote, it is again up to the Telecoms Ministers
to give their views.

*For further details, see*

*: *EU Telecoms Reform: the 6 Most Important Issues Still Open

EU Telecoms Reform: 7 Very Concrete Improvements for European Consumers

*Next steps:*

*27 November 2008:* the Council could reach a first political agreement on
the EU Telecoms Reform.
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