Brussels, 21 June 2012
Digital agenda: Commission urges Estonia to ensure impartial regulation in telecoms sector
The European Commission has sent a formal request to Estonia to comply with EU rules that require a clear separation between the bodies which regulate telecoms markets and those providing telecoms services. This separation is essential to preserve the impartiality of national telecoms regulators, guaranteeing fair regulation for consumers and businesses and maintaining competition.
According to EU telecoms rules, national authorities exercising regulatory tasks cannot at the same time be involved in the ownership or control of telecoms companies.
In Estonia, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications manages radio frequencies, numbering resources and provision of universal service. However at the same time it exercises control of the state-owned company Levira Ltd, which provides telecoms services, such as broadcasting and wireless broadband access.
The European Commission opened infringement proceedings against Estonia in September 2011 for not respecting the principle of separation between management of telecoms rules and ownership of the entity which provides telecoms services.
The formal request to Estonia takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement rules. Estonia now has two months to inform the Commission of measures taken to comply with EU rules. If it fails to do so, the Commission may refer Estonia to the EU's Court of Justice.
This infringement proceeding is part of the European Commission’s efforts to ensure that national telecoms regulators are independent.
Article 3(2) of the Framework Directive 2002/21/EC provides that Member States that retain ownership or control companies providing telecommunications services must ensure effective structural separation of the regulatory function from activities associated with ownership or control. Member States must ensure that national regulators exercise their power impartially and transparently.
For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/12/464
Overview of telecoms infringement proceedings
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