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IP/09/1812

Brussels, 24 November 2009

European Commission welcomes European Parliament approval of sweeping reforms to strengthen competition and consumer rights on Europe’s telecoms markets

With a broad majority across political parties, the European Parliament has today, at its plenary session in Strasbourg, formally approved the EU’s telecoms reform package, proposed by the Commission in November 2007 ( IP/07/1677 ). 500 million EU citizens will soon benefit from more consumer choice through enhanced competition on Europe’s telecoms markets, from better coverage with fast internet broadband connections across Europe, and from a stronger entrenchment of their right to privacy with regard to telecoms operators. European consumers will also enjoy a substantial number of new rights, such as the right to switch fixed or mobile operator in one working day while keeping their number; the right to be better informed about the services they subscribe to; and the right to be informed about data breaches from their telecoms operator. Operators must also give consumers the option of signing a contract which lasts no longer than 12 months. Under the new EU rules, national telecoms authorities will furthermore have the power to set minimum quality levels for network transmission services so as to promote "net neutrality" for European citizens. In addition, European consumers will see their fundamental rights regarding internet access reaffirmed and strengthened by the telecoms reform. A new internet freedom provision, included in the package at the insistence of the European Parliament, makes clear that in view of the fundamental rights that EU citizens enjoy, including the right to privacy, national authorities cannot restrict internet access for public policy reasons unless there has been a prior, fair and impartial procedure and effective and timely judicial review. The European Parliament’s approval of the reform today follows a political agreement reached on 5 November between Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators ( MEMO/09/491 ). It paves the way for the entry into force of the EU telecoms reform in December this year. Thereafter, Member States have 18 months to transpose the reformed EU Telecoms rules into their national telecoms laws.

The EU telecoms reform will bring more competition on Europe’s telecoms markets, better and cheaper fixed, mobile and internet services and faster internet connections for all Europeans. Thanks to the strong support of the European Parliament today, Europe has put citizens in the centre stage in telecoms regulation”, said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Telecoms Commissioner . ”It is good news for Europe’s consumers that the new powerful tool of functional separation will help national regulators to address persistent competition bottlenecks in telecoms markets, thereby enhancing consumer choice. I am also grateful that the European Parliament has supported the Commission in helping to bring about a more integrated single market in the telecoms field. The establishment of the new European Telecoms Body BEREC, the institutional set-up of which has been substantially designed by European Parliamentarians, is a very visible sign that we are serious when we say that Europe’s telecoms operators and consumers should no longer feel national borders in network access and the delivery of communication services. A true single market for Europe’s telecoms operators and consumers is now within reach. ”

On the 12 most important reforms of the new EU telecoms package , see MEMO/09/513

Next steps:

  • Signature of the legislation by the presidents of the European Parliament and Council on 25 November;

  • Entry into force of the whole telecoms reform package with its publication in the EU's Official Journal (18 December);

  • Establishment of the European Body of Telecoms Regulators BEREC (spring 2010);

  • Transposition of the telecoms reform package into national legislation in the 27 EU Member States (by June 2011).

For more information:

Preliminary text of the agreed reform package:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/tomorrow/index_en.htm

MEMO/09/513


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