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State aid: Commission launches public consultation on the revision of the Broadband Guidelines

Commission Européenne - IP/11/493   19/04/2011

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IP/11/493

Brussels, 19 April 2011

State aid: Commission launches public consultation on the revision of the Broadband Guidelines

The European Commission has invited stakeholders' views on the forthcoming revision of EU rules on the public financing of broadband infrastructure. The current guidelines, adopted in September 2009 (see IP/09/1332) provide a comprehensive framework for furthering the deployment of high and very-high speed broadband in Europe. However, fast evolving markets and rapid technological progress may require adaptations. This is why the Commission has set up a questionnaire on relevant issues, such as the development of very high speed broadband technologies or how best to design the access conditions on subsidized next generation networks. Comments should be submitted by 31 August 2011. In light of the results, the Commission will decide whether a revision of the guidelines is indicated and, in the affirmative, put forward a proposal for discussion in early 2012.

Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia commented: "Our goal is not merely to speed up public and private investments into high speed broadband networks, but also to ensure more competition in the sector. I am eager to hear more about the experience of Member States and stakeholders with state aid broadband measures in the first years of application of the Guidelines."

The Commission's 2009 Broadband Guidelines provide a clear and comprehensive framework for the application of EU state aid rules in this strategic sector. The Guidelines form an important part of the EU Digital Agenda (http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/digital-agenda/index_en.htm). Together with other Commission initiatives, such as the NGA Recommendation, the Spectrum Policy and the Broadband Communication (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199, MEMO/10/200), they play an important role in achieving the ambitious European goals for high speed broadband development. Following the adoption of the 2009 Guidelines, the Commission has been able to issue a record number of decisions and has approved a record amount of pro-competitive state aid in this sector (over to €1.8 billion in 2010 - see MEMO/10/31 and IP/11/54).

The Guidelines foresee their revision by September 2012 on the basis of important market, technological and regulatory developments. Therefore the Commission is consulting Member States and stakeholders at an early stage of the review process, to get their opinion and experience with state aid broadband measures and with the application of the Guidelines so far.

The Commission has published a detailed questionnaire to highlight the most important aspects where comments would be particularly welcome. These include, for instance, the technological and market development of very high speed broadband infrastructures, the best design of access conditions on subsidized next generation networks, enhancement of transparency of state aid broadband measures or the role of the national regulatory authorities in such projects.

In light of the replies, the Commission will then evaluate whether and to what extent changes are necessary. If appropriate, the Commission will come forward with new draft Guidelines in early 2012. Member States and stakeholders will again have the opportunity to express their views on this revised proposal.

For further information, the questionnaire (in all official EU languages) is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2011_broadband_guidelines/index_en.html

Submissions received will also be published on this page.

Replies should be sent until 31 August 2011 to the following e-mail address: comp-broadband-guidelines@ec.europa.eu.


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