Brussels, 7 April 2014
Commission again requests the 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 mobile termination rates (MTRs) paid to sipgate Wireless, a new operator on the German market, more than 80% higher than in most other Member States. The Recommendation issued by the Commission today is consistent with an earlier investigation into German mobile termination rates (see IP/13/612), in which the Commission already criticised BNetzA's regulatory approach for the entire mobile sector. 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.
European Commission Vice President @NeelieKroesEU said: "The vast majority of the EU Member States apply termination rates which are beneficial for consumers and competition. I insist that Germany complies with telecoms regulation and follows the same approach as other regulators. It is not acceptable that one regulator continues to hamper the proper functioning of the single telecom market".
BNetzA failed to justify need for special treatment
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.
The Commission's request follows a three month investigation, during which BEREC, the body of European Telecoms Regulators, again expressed its support for the Commission's position. The German regulator failed to provide convincing reasons during the investigation, which began in November last year (see IP/13/180), as to why it should be granted special treatment and be exempt from following the method for calculating MTRs set out in the EU telecoms rules (see IP/09/710 and MEMO/09/222).
EC Recommendation: withdraw or amend proposal
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 continue its approach and fail to comply with the Commission's recommendation, the Commission will undertake appropriate legal steps.
This is the fourth time that the Commission has issued a recommendation under Article 7a of the Telecoms Directive requesting BNetzA to change its approach towards termination rates in Germany (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 letter sent to the German regulator will be published at: