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Radio spectrum policy programme (Proposal)

The creation of an optimal internal market for electronic communications requires efficient use of radio spectrum. To this end, Article 8a of Directive 2002/21/EC invites the European Commission to implement a five-year radio spectrum policy programme in order to manage it better.


Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 September 2010 establishing the first radio spectrum policy programme [COM(2010) 471 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Proposal aims to put in place a five-year radio spectrum policy programme. This Proposal forms part of a package of measures presented by the European Commission in September 2010 which includes a Communication on broadband and a Recommendation on Next Generation Access networks. This programme sets the parameters of the spectrum required for the functioning of the internal market, both in electronic communications and in other fields such as transport, research and energy.

Programme policy objectives

The objectives of the radio spectrum policy programme are to:

  • make sufficient spectrum available to satisfy growing needs;
  • maximise flexibility in the use of spectrum;
  • enhance the efficient use of spectrum;
  • promote competition between electronic communications services in particular;
  • harmonise the internal market and develop transnational services;
  • avoid interference and disturbances;
  • protect human health.

Enhancing the efficient and flexible use of spectrum

Member States are required to:

  • adopt by 1 January 2013 authorisation and allocation measures appropriate for the development of broadband services, such as allowing, for example, relevant operators direct or indirect access to contiguous blocks of spectrum of at least 10 MHz;
  • foster the collective use of spectrum as well as shared use of spectrum;
  • cooperate to develop harmonised standards for radio equipment and terminals;
  • adopt selection conditions and procedures which promote investment and efficient use of spectrum.

The European Commission shall develop guidelines on authorisation conditions and procedures for spectrum bands concerning infrastructure sharing and coverage conditions in order to avoid over-fragmentation of the internal market.

Promoting competition

In order to ensure fair competition in the market, Member States may adopt the following measures:

  • limiting the amount of spectrum for which rights of use are granted to any economic operator;
  • limiting the granting of new rights of use in certain bands in order to prevent certain economic operators from accumulating too many spectrum frequencies and harming competition;
  • prohibiting transfers of spectrum usage rights;
  • amending the existing rights of certain operators in cases of excessive accumulation, in accordance with Article 14 of Directive 2002/20/EC.

Defining spectrum for wireless broadband communications

Member States shall allocate a sufficient portion of spectrum for all European citizens to have access to broadband by 2020.

Member States shall authorise the use of harmonised bands by 2012 in order to allow consumers easy access to wireless broadband services.

Member States shall make the 800 MHz band (the digital dividend) available for electronic communications services by 2013, allowing for exceptions.

The Commission is invited to adopt measures to ensure that Member States allow trading within the EU of spectrum usage rights in the harmonised bands.

The Commission may ensure the availability of additional spectrum bands for the provision of harmonised satellite services for broadband access.

Responding to specific spectrum needs

In addition to communications, spectrum must be available for the following specific needs:

  • monitoring the Earth's atmosphere and surface;
  • developing and exploiting space applications;
  • improving transport systems, for example through GALILEO;
  • services related to civil protection;
  • the results of research and development projects.

In order to save energy in spectrum use, the Commission shall conduct studies on creating a low-carbon policy and developing energy-saving technologies.

Creating an inventory of existing uses of and emerging needs for spectrum

The Commission, along with Member States, shall create an inventory of existing spectrum use and of future needs for spectrum with regard to the bands between 300 MHz to 3 GHz. This inventory should provide more transparency and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of spectrum use.

Participating in international negotiations and cooperating with different bodies

The Union shall participate in international negotiations relating to spectrum matters, in accordance with the rules of the Treaty, to defend its interests. In international negotiations, Member States shall ensure that the spectrum required for the development of EU policies is available.

Member States are required to ensure that the international agreements they sign up to are in accordance with EU legislation.

If required, the EU may provide political and technical support to Member States during bilateral negotiations with third countries.

The Commission and Member States must work closely with the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (ECPT), standardisation bodies and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) on technical issues in order to ensure the best use of spectrum outside the EU.


ProposalOfficial JournalProcedure

COM(2010) 471



Last updated: 25.10.2010
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