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Brussels, 19 November 2007
EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding meets Reinaldo Rodríguez, Chairman of the Spanish Regulatory Authority CMT
Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner responsible for telecommunications and media, met today Reinaldo Rodríguez, Chairman of CMT ("Comisión del Mercado de Telecomunicaciones de España"), the Spanish Telecom Regulator, in order to exchange opinions on current issues related to the European telecommunications sector. The main topics of their meeting – which follows a visit of CMT by Commissioner Reding in spring of this year – were next generation networks, geographical markets and the cooperation between national regulators and the European Commission.
Next generation networks and geographical markets
On the deployment of next generation networks in Europe, Commissioner Reding said: “The development of next generation networks is one of the greatest challenges in the evolution of Europe's Telecommunications Sector. Our data shows that, despite the evolution of competition in core networks, 90% of European consumers still depend on the infrastructure of the historic operators for their fixed line connections. This situation means that where infrastructure competition remains insufficient it is essential to retain ex-ante regulation for the benefit of consumers and the European economy. Regulation should be adjusted to reflect levels of competition in different geographic zones of Europe. Such an approach should create incentives for sustainable infrastructure competition, where the market permits, whilst continuing to promote service competition where infrastructure competition is not possible, in a form which guarantees choice for Europe's consumers.”
Commissioner Reding and President Rodríguez agreed that the ultimate aim of telecoms regulation is to benefit consumers. And it was in this sense that they discussed under which circumstances the level of infrastructure competition would be sufficient to permit a differentiation of geographic markets or a differentiation of regulatory obligations by geographic zones, to encourage further investment and infrastructure competition.
A better cooperation between national regulators and the European Commission
During the meeting with Commissioner Reding, Reinaldo Rodríguez expressed his “worry about cases where the European Commission's ex post intervention, as a competition authority, could go against the regulator's authority to take ex ante decisions in national markets”. Moreover, Mr. Rodríguez noted the “problem that legal certainty of ex ante regulation is threatened by subsequent negative decisions of Competition Law” and therefore called for a “greater cooperation between European Commission, in its role as competition authority and national regulators, in order to provide the sector with higher guarantees and certainty”.
Commissioner Reding stressed the need for effective competition in the telecommunications sector, where a lot still remains to be done, and noted the complementary roles to be played by both ex ante and ex post competition controls in order to reach this goal. Commissioner Reding said: "We need to ensure that there is an effective partnership between national regulators and the Commission, and that is why in the recent proposals for reform of the telecommunications sector presented last Tuesday, there are important improvements proposed to the existing cooperation mechanisms, including the establishment of a European Telecom Market Authority."
Commissioner Reding added: "The Commission's Telecoms Reform proposals have the aim of creating a true single telecommunications market for Europe for operators and consumers. We will furthermore propose to reduce number portability (users having the right to keep their number when they change operators) to a maximum of one working day. This policy has already clearly benefited Spanish consumers in a country which thanks to the regulation of CMT today is one Europe's leaders in this area."
Commissioner Reding praised the Spanish regulator for his efforts to create equal conditions for operators on the Spanish telecom market. She noted: "The name of the proposed European Telecom Market Authority draws direct inspiration from the name of Spain's Commission for the Telecommunications Market (CMT) and its role in promoting markets that are open and sustainable. Also the new Authority should be a Market Authority that will be, thanks to the expertise of national regulators, close to the market, whilst promoting a European telecoms market open for consumers and for businesses alike."