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Brussels, 14 December 2005

Telecoms: Commission opens new round of infringement proceedings, but also sees positive results of previous ones

In a further round of infringement proceedings concerning the EU’s telecom rules, the European Commission has decided to take Sweden and Poland to the European Court of Justice for failing to implement EU rules on electronic communications. In 12 cases from the previous infringement rounds, the Commission has sent reasoned opinions (step two in the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty) to the Czech Republic (2), France, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Poland (2), Slovakia, Germany, Finland and the UK. These countries now have two months in which to respond. They could also face action before the European Court of Justice if they fail to comply with the EU telecom rules. In addition, the Commission has sent letters of formal notice (step one in the infringement procedure – failure of a Member State to fulfill an obligation) to the UK, Portugal, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Lithuania. At the same time, the European Commission is closing 9 cases from previous infringement rounds, as the Member States concerned have meanwhile ensured effective implementation of the EU framework for electronic communications.

Implementing EU electronic communications rules is essential to enable competition and to deliver improved services. I find it regrettable that since the entry into force of the new rules in July 2003, the Commission had to open altogether more than 50 infringement procedures to remedy shortcomings in implementation,” said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “However, I am pleased that our efforts are now showing positive results in a number of Member States and that we can close today a whole series of cases. I encourage all Member States against whom infringement proceedings are still pending to get the job done as soon as possible, as further delay could seriously endanger growth and jobs in this key sector of Europe’s economy.”

The Commission has decided to bring EU Court of Justice cases against Poland, for failing to ensure effective availability of number portability, and against Sweden, for failing to maintain market safeguard regulations from the previous framework until market analyses have been completed. However, in both cases, the Commission expects that promised corrective action will be taken by these Member States before it will formally lodge the proceedings with the Court.

The Commission has also sent reasoned opinions to the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Slovakia for failing to ensure a comprehensive directory service. More reasoned opinions have also been sent to Czech Republic, for failing to ensure number portability, and to Germany, Finland and Poland because their national legislation provides insufficient powers for their national telecoms regulatory authorities.

In the current round, the Commission has also sent letters of formal notice to Cyprus, Portugal and the United Kingdom for failing to ensure a comprehensive directory service, to Lithuania for lack of number portability and to the Czech Republic for insufficient protection of users against “spam”.

The Commission has at the same time closed nine procedures following corrective measures, including amendments to legislation, in the respective Member States. Three cases were closed following notification by France of measures transposing EU rules into national law, and two more closed following transposition by Spain. Further closures were made following the publication of a reference unbundling offer (enabling alternative providers to use the incumbent’s access lines to offer services to customers) in Malta, the full provision of the Single European Emergency number 112 in Poland and the publication of a comprehensive subscribers’ directory in Lithuania. This means that reference unbundling offers and 112 emergency numbers are now available in all Member States.

The Commission also notes that Austria has amended national legislation in order to comply with the electronic communications framework, in particular to ensure safeguards against spam.
A detailed overview of the state of infringement proceedings is available on the implementation and enforcement website of the Information Society and Media DG:

See also MEMO/05/478

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