Friday

22nd Sep 2017

Sweeping changes to EU telecoms market agreed

  • Ms Reding did not get the veto powers she wanted (Photo: European Commission)

A ‘gentleman's agreement' on far-reaching changes to Europe's telecommunications sector between the three main institutions of the European Union was reached late on Monday, according to a spokesman for the European Commission.

"We have a draft deal that was concluded at a very late hour last night," telecoms spokesman Martin Selmyr told reporters on Tuesday (31 March).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The commission is very confident that this draft deal will be voted as such in the parliament and [by member state diplomats]," he added.

The reform establishes an EU-level telecoms supervisor, the Body of European Regulators in Electronic Communications, or Berec, that moves away from the current consensus-based decision making in oversight of telecoms between national regulators, with majority rule being taken up.

However, the new agency will not, as telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding had hoped for, deliver a veto to the commission over decisions taken by national regulators in the event that they do not meet the EU executive's competition requirements.

Both the parliament and member states were opposed to such a move.

Instead the commission will be able to issue ‘binding recommendations' so long as it has the backing of a majority within Berec. Without such a majority, the commission will only be able to issue non-binding recommendations.

The major telcos have been spared the splitting of their businesses into service delivery and network maintenance and development - a move known as ‘functional separation' - as has already occurred in the UK - a structure the commission has held up as a model for the rest of Europe. Germany and Spain, home to incumbent giants Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom respectively, in particular did not favour such a development.

Rather, functional separation will be required only as an "extraordinary measure".

The agreement would also not require the competitors of the incumbent telcos to take part in the development of so-called next-generation networks, but would still be able to be charged a ‘risk premium' to access these networks in order to balance the significant costs incurred by the bigger firms in their roll-out.

The deal comes after long-running informal talks between representatives of the commission, the European Parliament and the member states.

It must yet be ratified by the three parties, including a vote of the full sitting of the parliament, which is expected to take place some time in May.

Although a smaller, related package of issues concerning privacy and assuring universal service is still being navigated through the parliament by UK Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour, Mr Selmyr said : "On the big issues the deal was reached last night."

Focus

EU telecom watchdog plan dead on arrival

The European Commission wants to upgrade the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications into an agency, but both the parliament and member states are against it.

EU takes time to ponder tech giant tax

The EU commission published a paper that outlined several options on how to increase tax income from internet companies' activities, but fell short of proposing legislation.

EU commission changes gear on trade

The EU executive seeks new deals with Australia and New Zealand, while aiming to overhaul the global investment protection system. It also wants to screen foreign investments.

EU preparing to screen Chinese investments

The EU is to screen foreign investments to avoid takeovers in sensitive sectors. But the plan, mainly aimed at China, will raise political and technical difficulties.

Investigation

EU bank accused of muzzling watchdog

An ongoing review of the the European Investment Bank's "complaints mechanism" could make the oversight branch less independent and less effective.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  2. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  3. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  5. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  6. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  9. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  10. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  11. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  12. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies