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Brussels, 18 September 2008

Telecoms Rules: Commission proceeds with infringement cases against Spain, Poland and Cyprus, and closes proceedings against Latvia and Finland

In a new round of proceedings against possible infringements of EU Telecoms rules, the Commission today decided to send a reasoned opinion to Spain on universal service requirements and refer Poland and Cyprus to the European Court of Justice on broadband retail regulation and rights of way respectively. At the same time, the Commission could close two pending cases, as Latvia and Finland have taken satisfactory measures related to the Article 7 notification mechanism and must carry rules respectively.

The Commission will send Spain a reasoned opinion (the second stage of an infringement proceeding and the last before the case is submitted to the European Court of Justice) on its mechanism for the designation and financing of providers of universal service. Under EU Telecoms rules, Member States must make sure that no provider is automatically excluded when designating the providers of universal service. They can also grant these universal service providers compensation for offering these services upon their request and if Member States find that this represents an unfair burden to providers. Spain has to still take legislative measures to settle these issues and has not launched a new designation procedure yet. A letter of formal notice had been sent to Spain in June 2007 (IP/07/888), but with no avail.

The Commission also decided to refer Poland and Cyprus to the European Court of Justice. The Polish case relates to the decision to regulate the retail price of broadband without undertaking a market review which, under EU law, needs to be carried out before adopting new regulation (IP/08/142). The Cypriot case involves a failure to properly apply the procedure for granting rights to install facilities for the mobile sector on public property or to adopt additional measures to enable their correct implementation. Cyprus has not replied to the reasoned opinion sent by the Commission in February 2008 (MEMO/08/67).

In two other cases, positive developments have led to today's decisions to close two pending infringement proceedings. Following adoption of new legislation, the European Commission has decided to close the pending case against Latvia for incomplete transposition of the Article 7 notification mechanism. The Commission had started this case in April 2006 (MEMO/06/158) because Latvian legislation did not include the obligation to notify the Commission and national regulators in other EU Member States of draft measures relating to telecoms operators – a notification duty which is crucial for the proper functioning of the Single Telecoms Market. The legislation was duly amended in July 2008, ensuring complete transposition of the EU provisions on the notification mechanism, thereby allowing the Commission to close this case today.

The Commission also could close a case against Finland on "must carry" rules (IP/06/948). Under the EU's Universal Service Directive, network operators can be obliged by national "must carry" rules to transmit specified broadcast channels and services. The Commission found the Finnish legislation inconsistent with the requirements of the EU Telecoms rules, particularly with regards to proportionality and the lack of transparency. Following the adoption of new rules by the Finnish authorities which addressed the Commission’s concerns by decreasing the number of channels and which entered into force on 1 January 2008, the Commission decided to close the case.

A detailed overview of the state of infringement proceedings is available on the implementation and enforcement website of DG Information Society and Media:

For the other infringement proceedings under the EU Telecoms rules in this round see IP/08/1342 and IP/08/1343.

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