Brussels, 27 June 2013
Digital Agenda - Commission asks German telecoms regulator to lower mobile call rates
The European Commission has requested the German telecoms regulator (BNetzA) to amend or withdraw its plans which would result in German mobile termination rates (MTRs) more than 80% higher than in most other Member States. Termination rates are the rates telecoms networks charge each other to deliver calls between networks, and each operator has market power over access to customers on its own network. These costs are ultimately included in call prices paid by consumers and businesses.
The Commission's request follows a three month investigation, during which BEREC, the body of European Telecoms Regulators, expressed its support for the Commission's position. The German regulator failed to provide convincing reasons during the investigation, which began in February (see IP/13/180), as to why it should be granted special treatment and be allowed not to follow the method for calculating MTRs set out in the Commission's 2009 Recommendation on Termination Rates (see IP/09/710 and MEMO/09/222) as part of EU telecoms legislation.
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "Creating a single market for telecoms and protecting consumers is top of the bill. The vast majority of Member States are now setting mobile rates in a coordinated way that brings maximum benefit to consumers and to competition, so there should be no exception elsewhere."
The proposed rates do not comply with the principles and objectives of EU telecoms rules which require Member States to promote competition and the interests of consumers in the EU, as well as the development of the Single Market. In addition to German consumers paying over the odds, the approach proposed by BNetzA would favour German mobile operators at the expense of foreign operators, thus creating barriers to the single market.
The Recommendation addressed to the German regulator requires it to either withdraw its proposals or amend them in order to bring them in line with the approach recommended by the Commission. Should BNetzA fail to follow the Commission's recommendation, the Commission will consider appropriate legal steps.
This is the fourth time that the Commission has issued a recommendation under Article 7a of the Telecoms Directive (MEMO/10/226).
EU telecoms rules require Member States to promote competition and the interests of consumers in the EU, as well as the development of the Single Market.
Article 7 of the Telecoms Framework Directive requires national telecoms regulators to notify the Commission, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and telecoms regulators in other EU countries, of the measures they plan to introduce to solve market problems.
Where the Commission has concerns as to the compatibility of the proposals with EU law, it can open an in-depth, or so-called Phase II, investigation, under the powers of Articles 7a of the Framework Directive. It then has three months to discuss with the relevant regulator, in close cooperation with BEREC, how to amend its proposal in order to make it compliant with EU law. If, at the end of this investigation, divergences in the regulatory approaches of national regulators for remedies persist, the Commission may adopt further harmonisation measures in the form of recommendations, in which the Commission can require the national regulator in question to amend or withdraw its proposed measure.
The Commission's Recommendation addressed at the German regulator BNetzA will be published at:
Neelie Kroes' website
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