Brussels, 24th November 2010
Digital Agenda: Commission requests Luxembourg to comply with EU telecoms rules on consumer disputes
The European Commission has today asked Luxembourg to comply with EU telecoms rules requiring simple and inexpensive out-of-court procedures to be put in place for consumers involved in telecoms service disputes. Such dispute resolution systems are crucial for effective consumer protection. The request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion" under EU infringement procedures. Luxembourg now has two months to comply with the relevant EU law, otherwise the Commission may refer it to the EU's Court of Justice.
The Commission has decided to issue a "reasoned opinion" to Luxembourg because the country has not fulfilled its obligation to ensure that transparent, simple and inexpensive out-of-court procedures are available for dealing with unresolved disputes involving consumers of telecoms services.
In the Commission's view, the relevant provision of the EU's Universal Service Directive (2002/22/CE) is not effectively implemented in Luxembourg. While Luxembourg has taken some steps to remedy the situation, the current national procedure is far too costly, starting at €600, which is unacceptable taking into account the typical amount of a phone bill.
Luxembourg has proposed a new law on networks and electronic communications services that will enable the national telecoms regulator, the Institut luxembourgeois de régulation (ILR), to define a new more appropriate procedure, specific for the telecoms sector. However, the law would only be adopted next year and it is therefore likely that the new procedure would not be available in practice before mid-2011. The Commission finds this delay unacceptable and has decided to send a reasoned opinion. If Luxembourg does not take the necessary measures to comply with EU telecoms rules within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the EU's Court of Justice.
The Commission launched an infringement procedure against Luxembourg in June 2010, concerning the implementation of Article 34 of the Universal Service Directive. The Article in question stipulates that Member States shall ensure that transparent, simple and inexpensive out-of-court procedures are available for dealing with unresolved disputes, involving consumers, relating to issues covered by the Directive. The Directive ensures, inter alia, the protection of consumer rights in the telecoms sector.
In a recent judgment in joined cases C-317-320/08, delivered in March 2010, the EU's Court of Justice stressed the need for such out-of-court procedures to be affordable for consumers.
An overview of telecoms infringement proceedings is available at:
For more information on EU infringement procedures: see MEMO/10/605.