On August 30, 2016, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) published its Guidelines on the Implementation by National Regulators of European Net Neutrality Rules, following last year's first ever EU-wide net neutrality rules agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council (Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of 25 November 2015) which have already entered in effect on April 30, 2016.
In practice, net neutrality rules will ensure that everywhere in the EU, people will have access to the same content, applications and services, while benefitting from high-quality internet. ISPs are prohibited from blocking or slowing down of Internet traffic, except where necessary. The exceptions are limited to: traffic management to comply with a legal order, to ensure network integrity and security, and to manage congestion, provided that equivalent categories of traffic are treated equally. The provisions also enshrine in EU law a user’s right to be “free to access and distribute information and content, run applications and use services of their choice”. Specific provisions ensure that national authorities can enforce this new right. Overall, by forbidding service providers from making any distinction in what content is accessible to whom and at what cost, the guidelines of net neutrality aim to improve the quality of the services paid for by European customers.
The Guidelines are published with an accompanying consultation report summarising stakeholders’ views (481 547 submissions) submitted and how they have been taken into account.