Brussels, 13 October 2005
Electronic Communications: Commission takes action against nine Member States to ensure competitive conditions in the market
Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland and Slovenia are the countries which are targeted by the European Commission in a new round of infringement proceedings concerning the EU telecom rules. The European Commission today sent letters of formal notice to seven EU Member States for so far failing to notify it of electronic communications market reviews required by the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications. Market reviews are designed to ensure that rules are updated to keep pace with changing markets and are only applied where there is a lack of competition. Obligations should only be imposed on dominant operators. The Member States concerned by this aspect in this new round of infringement proceedings are Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Poland. Sending a letter of formal notice is the first stage of an infringement proceeding under Article 226 of the EC Treaty (failure of a Member State to fulfil an obligation). The Member States concerned now have two months to respond to the Commission’s concerns. Further infringement proceedings have been opened against Estonia because of legal deficiencies regarding definition of markets and transitional regime; and against Cyprus and Slovenia, where the independence of the national telecom regulator is not yet in line with EU law requirements. Because of a continued lack of number portability, Infringement proceedings against Malta have been moved to the second stage (reasoned opinion).
“Implementing the joint EU rules is essential to ensure that competition on Europe’s electronic communications market can deliver high-quality goods and services that are essential to growth and jobs”, said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “We also need the 25 national regulators’ market reviews to enable us to make an informed assessment of the framework when we come to review it in 2006. This is why I am determined to undertake the necessary steps to make sure that Member States comply with their obligations as soon as possible.”
The electronic communications framework has now been in force for over two years in the EU 15, and 17 months in the EU 10. Member States were required to ensure that their national regulatory authorities (NRAs) carried out a first analysis of the state of competition in relevant markets and a review of existing regulation in those markets “as soon as possible” after the framework’s entry into force. While the market review process is well advanced in some Member States, the seven Member States who were sent a letter of formal notice today, had not yet notified the Commission of the results of any of their market reviews by the end of September.
The Commission will also continue to monitor the situation in those Member States whose NRAs have notified only a small number of market reviews and where progress seems to be very slow in completing the work for other markets.
At the same time, infringement proceedings on other issues have been opened
against Estonia (definition of markets and transitional regime), Cyprus and
Slovenia (independence of regulators), and a reasoned opinion, the second stage
of an infringement proceeding, has been decided in one case concerning Malta
(number portability). These proceedings are detailed in Memo/05/372