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European Commissioner for Competition Policy
The important role of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications
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Inaugural meeting of BEREC
Palais d'Egmont, Brussels, 28th January 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed a pleasure to join for this inaugural event of BEREC .
You might be wondering why you are getting 'two for the price of one' with both Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding and myself today. The answer is that I take an interest from both sides of the fences – having joint responsibility for the so-called Article 7 procedures (which verify measures taken by national regulators to ensure robust competition in the telecoms sector) as Competition Commissioner, and looking forward to working with you as Commissioner-Designate for the Digital Agenda.
Firstly, let me congratulate you on the birth of BEREC. It was a long, hard pregnancy and labour, but as both a Commissioner and a mother, I appreciate that this initial pain is well worth the result. And I can tell you that I really value such action over talk.
Of course, you have to raise the child too – so there is a great deal of work still to come. Indeed, the initial administrative and budgetary requirements may be a challenge. However, I think that our experience shows that such efforts provide a safe and solid basis for building EU bodies such as BEREC. In any case, I think red tape should be kept to the minimum needed to guarantee you a solid start, and you have my support in getting BEREC fully functional as soon as possible.
More broadly, the running of BEREC is up to you: lock, stock and barrel. It is also in my interests that you succeed, and you can rest assured that I, like the European Parliament, think that a strong and independent BEREC is the best chance for this success. Not only for BEREC, but also in reinforcing the efforts of national regulators who might sometimes feel their independence is under pressure back home.
Regarding your mission, the EU Legislator has established BEREC to ensure the "consistent application" of the telecoms Regulatory framework. This is quite different from "harmonisation." In Europe's diverse telecom markets, I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach will work. We are all aware that BEREC is not a European super-regulator . However, as a body of experienced national regulators I think you are well placed to deliver this consistent application of the regulatory framework. That said a diversity of market situations is not an excuse for a lowest-common denominator approach. In that sense I am placing my trust in you - as experts in these markets - to aim high in your work. I look forward to a close working relationship on important dossiers, such as next generation access networks, universal service, roaming and net neutrality – to name but a few. Here we will, I am sure, benefit from our combined expertise to find the right solutions.
In the area of Article 7 and the new Article 7a, the Commission also looks to BEREC to bring its experience and knowledge of markets to the fulfillment of its enhanced role. The industry needs this input and certainty, consumers want you to defend their interests through these instruments, and it is essential for the internal market in electronic communications and Europe's economy recovery that you succeed.
Regarding operational matters, I am pleased a consensus has emerged on voting procedures, in particular on electronic voting. Every voice counts, and every national regulator should have an incentive to actively exercise its vote, one way or another!
And finally, regarding your location, I want to be clear that your location should be a matter where your voice should be heard . This decision should not be imposed by others, and I believe you are right to make your case 'loud and clear'. Please also know that you have a temporary home in Brussels if a permanent choice is not feasible at this stage.
Let me finish by offering you my best wishes and an open door. Everyone stands to win from a successful, strong and independent BEREC, and you have my full support.