Brussels, 25 June 2009
Telecoms: Commission urges Portugal to speed up delivery of phone directories and directory enquiries to comply with Court judgement
Portugal must speed up delivery of comprehensive telephone directory and directory enquiry services, as required by EU telecoms rules, says the European Commission. In March 2009, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) called on Portugal to ensure that Portuguese consumers could rely on directory and directory enquiry services including the data of all telephone users that want to be listed. Today, the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Portugal asking it to comply with the judgement, Otherwise, Portugal could be fined if the case proceeds to the ECJ again.
"Comprehensive directory and directory enquiry services are available in most EU Member States and I see no reason why Portuguese consumers should not be fully benefiting from these essential rights, as do the citizens of other EU Member States," said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding . "As guardian of the EU Treaties, the Commission has to pursue this infringement proceeding against Portugal to ensure that the European Court of Justice judgement is respected. Directory and directory enquiry services are an essential consumer tool for accessing telephone services and should be available to all EU consumers.”
The Commission has today called on Portugal to do more to comply with a n ECJ ruling requesting Portugal to make directory and directory enquiry services available to consumers as required by EU rules. This marks the second phase of the infringement proceeding. If Portugal does not respond appropriately, the case could proceed again to the ECJ and lead to the imposition of a fine.
On 1 2 March 2009, the ECJ ruled that Portugal failed to ensure that at least one comprehensive directory and at least one comprehensive directory enquiry service are available for consumers in Portugal.
The directory and directory enquiry services currently available in Portugal only contain the subscriber data of some operators. The Commission noted certain steps taken by the Portuguese regulator in January 2009 to address this issue. Nevertheless, it calls on the Portuguese government to speed up the process and make sure these comprehensive services are available . If Portugal does not respond to this call for improvement within two months, it runs the risk of being fined for not respecting the Court's judgment.
Consumers should be able to access a printed or electronic comprehensive directory and a directory enquiry service, which should include data of all telephone subscribers who want to have an entry, independently of the operator providing the telephone service. These services are essential consumer rights in the telecoms sector.
Under the EU's Universal Service Directive (Articles 5 and 25), Member States are obliged to ensure at least one comprehensive directory and at least one directory enquiry service are available in their countries. In addition, subscribers to telephone services have the right to be listed in a directory and all users should be able to access a directory enquiry service.
This is not the only ongoing telecoms infringement procedure against Portugal. In January 2009, the Commission decided, under Article 226 of the EC Treaty, to refer Portugal to the European Court of Justice with regard to a separate case on universal service designation ( ) . The Commission's view is that the current concession contract, whereby the incumbent operator will continue to provide universal service until 2025, unduly excludes any other operator from being designated as a universal service provider.
A detailed overview of telecoms infringement proceedings is available at: