Brussels, 16 October 2014
Telecoms: Commission refers Belgium to Court over independence of national regulator
The European Commission has decided to refer Belgium to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) because as it believes that Belgian law does not guarantee the independence of the national telecoms regulator. According to EU telecoms rules, national telecoms authorities responsible for market regulation and dispute settlement between companies must act independently and not take or seek instructions when applying those rules.
Belgium has not adapted its national law following a formal request by the Commission in April 2014 to guarantee the independence of its telecoms regulator.
Under Belgian law, the Belgian Council of Ministers can under certain circumstances suspend decisions of the Belgian telecoms regulator, the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT). Furthermore, the Institute must obtain the approval of its multiannual strategy by the Belgian Council of Ministers.
The Commission considers that these elements limit the independence of the BIPT when implementing EU telecom rules and that this can have negative consequences for competition in the sector.
This infringement proceeding is part of the European Commission’s efforts to ensure that national telecoms regulators are independent. An independent regulator is essential to a well-functioning liberalised market. Independence requirements have been reinforced in the 2009 reform package to include the prohibition of political interference.
Article 3(3a) of the Framework Directive 2002/21/EC for electronic communications provides that national regulatory authorities responsible for ex ante market regulation and the resolution of disputes between undertakings shall act independently and not take or seek instructions in relation to the tasks assigned to them under national law implementing Community law.
On the October infringement package decisions, see MEMO/14/589.
On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12
For more information on infringement procedures: http://ec.europa.eu/eu_law/infringements/infringements_en.htm
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