- 2008-07-07 two of the European Parliament’s committees voted on the European Commission’s proposals to reform the EU Telecom rules.
Even though the final view of the European Parliament will only be known once the Plenary has voted on the Commission proposal on 2007-09-03, the votes are important steps towards shaping the final legislative texts to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.
During November 13, 2007 the European Commission proposed regulation to better administer the single European Telecoms Market for 500 million consumers as we discussed here:
- Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL establishing the European Electronic Communications Market Authority (presented by the Commission) COM(2007)699 rev 2.
Now two committees - ITRE and IMCO - have voted on the proposed legislation and its ammendments. We provide a summary below:
On Monday evening (2008-07-07), the:
of the European Parliament voted on around 1,000 changes to the EU Telecom rules, consolidated into over 30 amendments. The compromise proposal put forward by the ITRE Committee, Catherine Trautmann and Pillar del Castillo Vera as well as the IMCO Committee, Malcolm Harbour for the draft framework directive was accepted.
ITRE accepted a number of the Commission’s key proposals, including things such as:
- A) addition of functional separation to the toolbox of national regulators to ensure competition.
In Monday’s vote the Parliamentary Committee agreed that national regulators should be able to require a dominant operator to separate its access network infrastructure and service arms, in order to give other competitors a fair chance to offer services using that infrastructure.
- B) strengthening the cooperation of national telecoms regulatiors by creating a new body composed of independent telecoms regulators (called Body of European Regulators for Telecommunications).
This new structure has substantially less powers than proposed by the Commission. In contrast to the Commission’s proposal, the new regulatory body called Body of European Regulators in Telecommunications (BERT), is also not mainly financed from the EU budget, but will have to be paid, by 2/3, by national taxpayers.
Incidentally, BERT will be composed of the 27 national regulatory authorities. This is an alernative proposal to the European Electronic Communications Market Authority (EECMA) advocated by the Commission.
Previously, the Commission proposed that the new regulatory body would be combined with the existing European Network Information and Security Agency (ENISA), to create synergies while avoiding the creation of an additional EU agency as we reported about here:
ENISA is, however, not to be comgined with the new regulatory body for the telecoms market.
Instead the Committees voted to prolong the mandate of ENISA until 2012.
- C) enhancing transparency on pricing and conditions while improving number portability
This will enable consumers to shop around for competitive offers. Disabled users will also benefit from better access to telecoms services such as 112 or TV channels’ subtitles.
Challenges left to be resolved
1) The compromise introduces the wording ‘lawful content’ into the telecommunications packages. This does, however, create a copyright regulation component within the law.
In turn, Member States would thereby been given the possibility to add their own regulations. So France could include its own three-strikes-and-you-are-out policy against persistent internet pirates in the directive.
2) One of the Commission’s key proposals to oblige operators to warn consumers when their private data are compromised (i.e. data security breach), has been watered down.
Timetable for the legislation
3 September 2008: Vote on the EU Telecoms Reform Proposals in the European Parliament’s plenary.
27 November 2008: the Council of Telecoms Ministers could, under French Presidency pave the way for finalising the legislative texts.