New round of infringement proceedings under the EU telecom rules: What are the issues?
European Commission - MEMO/07/414 17/10/2007
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Brussels, 17 October 2007
How many infringement proceedings against Member States has the Commission already launched under the 2002 telecom rules?
In total, since the EU telecom rules entered into force, the Commission has opened proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty in some 90 cases due to failures to correctly implement the rules. Seven cases are actually pending before the European Court of Justice. Moreover, proceedings have been launched against Bulgaria and Romania for not having notified all measures necessary to transpose the rules. These have all been closed now following notification of the respective legislation.
What are the issues at stake in the October 2007 round of infringement proceedings?
1. The single European emergency number 112 and provision of caller location information to emergency authorities
The EU telecom rules require Member States to ensure that it is possible to call the emergency services free of charge by using the single European emergency number 112. They also have to ensure that telecommunications operators provide emergency authorities with the caller location information for calls to ‘112’ from both fixed and mobile phones, if this is technically feasible. To guide the Member States in implementing this requirement, the Commission issued a Recommendation in 2003. In March 2005, the Commission services noted that from then onwards, they would regard the provision of caller location as technically feasible, since it was available in most Member States.
The Commission has opened various infringement proceedings against several Member States concerning 112, in particular concerning the non-availability of caller location information to emergency authorities for calls made from fixed and/or mobile phones.
Since 112 is not available in Bulgaria, the Commission is sending it a letter of formal notice. Meanwhile, the case against Greece is being closed and the application filed in the Court of Justice against Portugal is being withdrawn since caller location for calls to 112 is now provided to emergency authorities in these two Member States.
2. Directories/Directory Enquiry Services
All subscribers to publicly available telephone services have the right to be listed in a comprehensive directory and its related directory enquiry service should be made available. This can be of great use in everyday life which is why such services are part of the universal service directive and all Member States must make them available under the EU telecom rules.
In the United Kingdom, there was no comprehensive directory and directory enquiry service available because not all mobile subscribers, who so wished, could be included in the comprehensive directory and directory enquiry service.
Following action by the United Kingdom authorities in conjunction with the mobile industry, the Commission is now satisfied that arrangements are in place to allow mobile subscribers to be included in the comprehensive directory and directory enquiry service. The Commission has accordingly closed the case against the United Kingdom.
3. Failure to carry out market reviews
One of the cornerstones of the EU telecom rules is the process of market analysis and review of ex-ante obligations. Analysis and review of 18 relevant markets are required under the rules. If the national regulator's market analysis shows that there is no, or only limited, competition on certain telecoms markets, then appropriate regulation should be imposed. If the market is effectively competitive, existing regulation should be withdrawn. National regulators must notify their findings for assessment to the Commission before implementing the proposed measures.
Without timely notification of the proposed measures by national regulators, there is a risk that the rules applicable to operators will no longer be appropriate for the level of competition in the relevant markets. This may result, in some cases, in operators being subject to regulatory obligations that are no longer justified by market conditions or consumer needs. Conversely, it may also lead to operators that are dominant in a relevant market not being subject to obligations that would ensure effective competition.
In October 2005, the Commission sent letters of formal notice to Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg and Poland for failing to notify the Commission of telecom market reviews as required by the EU rules. Reasoned opinions, the second stage of infringement proceedings, were subsequently sent to Belgium, Estonia and Latvia. In March, the Commission decided to refer Estonia to the Court of Justice.
Most Member States have now substantially completed their market reviews. The Commission has in this round decided to close the case against Estonia following receipt of notifications of all 18 relevant markets. The case against Cyprus was also closed since all markets except the one on international roaming which is now obsolete following the entry into force of the EU roaming regulation, have been notified.
Where can I find further information on pending infringement proceedings
concerning the electronic communications sector?
What is the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications?
The EU regulatory framework for electronic communications, (EU Telecom Rules) came into force in 2002 and consists of five Directives:
- Framework Directive: outlines the general principles, objectives and procedures
- Authorisation Directive: replaces individual licences by general authorisations to provide communications services
- Access and Interconnection Directive: sets out rules for a multi-carrier marketplace, ensuring access to networks and services, interoperability, etc.
- Universal Service Directive: guarantees basic rights for consumers and minimum levels of availability and affordability
- e-Privacy or Data Protection Directive: covers protection of privacy and personal data communicated over public networks
Where can I find more information on the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications?
A complete overview of the electronic communications framework and policy can be found on DG Information Society and Media's electronic communications website of DG: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/