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IP/05/430

Brussels, 14 April 2005

EU rules on electronic communications - Commission launches infringement proceedings against ten Member States

The Commission has launched legal proceedings against ten EU Member States to remedy infringements of EU rules on electronic communications. It points to defects in national laws, and incorrect practical application of EU rules, in Germany, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Finland. The opening of these proceedings follows concerns identified in the Commission’s Implementation Reports[1] on the electronic communications sector, the most recent of which was published at the end of 2004.

In opening these proceedings, Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding reiterated the importance of implementing the EU rules fully and correctly.

‘Ineffective implementation of these rules threatens the goal, which is vital to EU productivity and growth, of building a competitive electronic communications sector within the EU. In launching these proceedings, we are following through on the concerns we raised in our Implementation Report. Following the first decisions of the Court of Justice[2] against Member States that have not yet fully transposed[3] the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications into their national laws, the Commission is now determined to highlight - and press Member States to remedy - defects in national law and practical implementation. One of our prime concerns is to ensure that national regulatory authorities (NRAs) are given the full range of powers provided for under the EU rules, in order to ensure that competition is effective and that consumers are protected.’

For example, some defects in the way the EU rules have been transposed in all ten Member States handicap NRAs and prevent them from bringing the benefits of EU rules to the citizen. Furthermore, in some cases (Latvia, Malta and Poland) the development of a competitive market will be held back because number portability, which is a key enabler of competition, has not been implemented in practice. In one case (Poland) there has been a failure to ensure access to emergency services via the single European 112 emergency number.

These ten Member States now have the opportunity to address the Commission’s concerns, and thus to avoid further enforcement action[4]. While this is just the first action following the 10th Implementation Report, the Commission is continuing to examine the implementation of the regulatory framework generally and will launch further proceedings as necessary.

Background

For previous infringement proceedings concerning non-implementation of the New Regulatory Framework for e-communications see the following press releases:

IP/04/510 21 April 2004 - Six Member States face Court action for failing to put
in place new rules on electronic communications

IP/04/435 1 April 2004 - Electronic Communications: Commission takes second legal step against eight Member States for not adopting new privacy rules for digital networks and services

IP/03/1356 8 October 2003 - Electronic Communications: European Commission launches infringement proceedings against eight Member States

IP/03/1663 5 December 2003 - Commission launches infringement proceedings against nine Member States for not adopting new privacy rules for digital networks and services 

IP/03/1750 17 December 2003 - Electronic Communications: Commission takes further step in enforcement action against seven Member States


[1] COM(2004) 759 final, COM(2003) 715 final
[2] On 10 March the Court held that Belgium and Luxembourg have failed to fulfil their obligations under the New Regulatory Framework since they did not take all necessary transposition measures.
[3] Since the last Implementation Report primary legislation has been adopted in Estonia and the Czech Republic. Infringement proceedings against Estonia have been closed following notification of these transposition measures by that Member State.
[4]One non-conformity proceeding against Germany is already at the second stage of a reasoned opinion.


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