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Brussels, 6 April 2006

EU telecoms rules: Commission takes steps to ensure that emergency services can locate callers

The non-availability of caller location information to emergency authorities in 11 Member States is at the centre of new round of infringement proceedings started by the European Commission this week. In another 4 cases that were initiated previously, the Commission has sent this week reasoned opinions to Belgium, France, Poland and Slovenia (step two in the infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty). At the same time, the European Commission is closing 9 cases from previous infringement rounds as the Member States concerned have meanwhile ensured that the EU telecom rules are properly implemented.

“We have now started proceedings in a very important area for EU citizens – namely caller location information for the emergency number 112,” said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “The ability to locate emergency callers can save lives, and I urge the Member States to lose no more time in making the necessary changes, so that these proceedings and all other pending cases can be closed.”

In the current round, the Commission has opened 13 new cases against Member States. Eleven of them concern the non-availability of caller location information to emergency authorities in Greece, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia. This follows the publication of the 11th Implementation Report (see IP/06/188) which had indicated that immediate action would be taken if this problem was not remedied by the Member States.

Further two cases concern incomplete transposition into national law of the mechanism (also called Article 7 procedure, see MEMO/06/59) for notifying the Commission of draft decisions following analysis of competition in the various electronic communications markets in Latvia, and the incompleteness of the incumbent’s reference offer to other operators allowing them to connect their own equipment to users’ lines (called unbundling) in the local exchange in Estonia.

The Commission has furthermore decided this week to send reasoned opinions to Belgium and Poland for not yet notifying the European Commission of any market reviews under the 2002 regulatory framework for electronic communications. These reviews are needed to ascertain whether telecoms markets are effectively competitive. This is why the Commission started a series of infringement proceedings against Member States in October 2005 (see IP/05/1269 and MEMO/05/372).The Commission is still monitoring closely the market review notification process in the cases of Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Czech Republic and Estonia, whose first notifications have been received after the proceedings were opened in October.

Slovenia will receive a reasoned opinion because number portability (keeping your number when changing operators) is still not fully available (see already IP/05/875).

A further important element in this week’s new round of infringement proceedings is compliance with the EU rules on the universal service in the telecom sector. These rules guarantee basic services for consumers (connection and telephone services at a fixed location, public payphones, directory services and, where appropriate, measures for disabled users) with minimum levels of availability and affordability. To this end, Member States may designate one or more undertakings to provide the universal services, and the Directive stipulates that there should be no a priori exclusion of telecoms operators from the possibility of being designated. In July 2005, the Commission expressed concerns as to whether this principle had been correctly transposed into the national laws of Hungary, Finland and France (see IP IP/05/875). The Commission has now decided to close the infringement proceedings against Hungary, further to its assurances that individual universal service requirements could be provided by different operators. However, the Commission services will continue to monitor implementation of these rules in Hungary very closely. Finland, in its reply to the letter of formal notice, has indicated that its national laws will be changed to take account of the Commission’s concerns with regard to universal service. This leaves the case of France, where the Commission has decided this week to send a reasoned opinion, because French law continues to restrict a priori designation as supplier of the universal service to operators capable of providing the universal service on a national basis.

Together with the Hungarian case, the Commission has closed a further eight procedures following corrective measures in the respective Member States. Four cases against Greece were closed after it notified the Commission of measures it took to transpose the electronic communications framework into its national laws (see IP/04/510). Following the adoption of new legislation by Austria, one non-conformity cases was closed (see IP/05/430). Cases against Slovenia and Estonia relating to the maintenance of transitional regulatory obligations until the EU framework was fully implemented (see MEMO/05/478) are also being closed, together with a case concerning the national regulatory authority’s independence in Finland (see IP/05/1585).
A detailed overview of the state of infringement proceedings in the telecom sector is available on the implementation and enforcement website of the Information Society and Media DG.

See also MEMO/06/158

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