Brussels, 7 July 2006
In a new round of proceedings against possible infringements of EU telecoms rules, the European Commission has closed another 18 cases as Member States have taken steps to comply with EU rules as required. These steps range from enabling national telecoms regulatory authorities to promote competition, to protecting telephone users' privacy. At the same time, five new cases have been opened, four of which concern the non-conformity of national "must-carry" rules with the EU "Universal Service" Directive in Belgium (Wallonia and Brussels), the Netherlands and Finland. In addition, pending proceedings against three Member States (Finland, Latvia and Poland) have been carried forward. European Court of Justice proceedings are being brought against Poland and Latvia, for failing to ensure the publication of a comprehensive directory and a comprehensive inquiry service. Finally, Finland faces infringement proceedings for failing to ensure that its national telecoms authorities have sufficient powers to regulate the market for terminating fixed to mobile calls.
“I am satisfied that national measures to enforce EU telecoms rules are getting results", said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “It is good news for consumers that comprehensive directory and enquiry services are being made available in almost all Member States. Many users are also now availing themselves of the possibility, foreseen in EU rules, to keep their numbers when switching to cheaper operators. However, we remain vigilant and are launching new infringement proceedings whenever necessary.”
Nine cases were closed following the adoption of new legislation or other implementation measures taken by the Member States. These concern Cyprus and Slovenia with regard to the independence of the national regulatory authority (NRA), Estonia concerning the powers of the national regulator, the Netherlands with regard to the Access Directive, Slovakia with regard to both the Access and the Universal Service directives, the Czech Republic and Latvia with regard to the ePrivacy Directive, and Sweden with regard to the transition from the previous telecoms rules to the current framework.
Following the publication of a comprehensive directory and a comprehensive inquiry service in the Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Slovakia, another five pending cases have been closed.
The Commission has now also closed three number portability cases since this service is now fully available in the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania. In Lithuania, some 33,000 numbers have been ported since fully operational number portability became available in February 2006.
After the Greek parliament adopted the national ePrivacy Act on 20 June 2006 and the closure of another non-communication case (concerning transposition in Gibraltar), the 2002 regulatory framework is now formally transposed into the national laws of all Member States.
Moreover, following the receipt of notifications from Belgium and Poland, the national regulatory authorities in all 25 Member States are fully engaged in analysing markets and notifying the results of their market reviews under the 2002 regulatory framework.
Meanwhile, the Commission has decided to refer Finland to the Court of Justice as its national telecoms regulator is prevented, by national law, from effectively regulating the market for fixed to mobile termination as has been confirmed in its recent notification of the market. Furthermore, in view of the limited powers of its NRA, Finland will also receive a supplementary letter of formal notice, and Poland will receive a reasoned opinion (stage two of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty, following a letter of formal notice).
Moreover, Poland and Latvia are being referred to the Court for failure to ensure the publication of a comprehensive directory and a comprehensive inquiry service.
In the current round, the Commission has opened five new cases. Four of them concern non-conformity of the national "must carry" rules with the Universal Service Directive in Belgium (Wallonia and Brussels), the Netherlands and Finland. The other case concerns the failure to grant "rights of way" in Cyprus, which has prevented new entrants from being able to offer their services in competition with the incumbent. These issues were also listed by the Commission in its 2005 report on the implementation of EU telecoms rules (see IP/06/188). In all these cases, the Member States will receive a letter of formal notice and will have two months to reply.
A detailed overview of the state of infringement proceedings is available on
the implementation and enforcement website of the Information Society and Media
See also MEMO/06/271