Regulatory framework for electronic communications under Review

by Eric Munch (Observer) posted on 06 October, 2016   (public)

Regulatory framework for electronic communications under review

On the same day as the publication of extensive proposals to review the copyright framework in the Digital single market, the European Commission also unveiled proposals for the review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications, the so-called "telecom package". These reviews are taking place within the context of the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy for Europe.

On September 14th, 2016 the Commission published legislative proposals to establish the European Electronic Communications Code, an action plan to deploy 5G across the EU as from 2018, a Communication and Staff Working Document "Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market – towards a  European Gigabit Society"; and two Proposals for Regulations: on the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) and on the promotion of Internet connectivity in local communities and public spaces.

The Draft Directive establishing the European Electronic Communications Code proposes to merge through an horizontal recasting the four existing telecoms Directives: Framework, Authorisation, Access and Universal Service Directive. The aim of the proposal is to adapt the current framework to the changes of the digital environment and the new modes of consumption. It also covers the question of over-the-top communications services (OTT), proposing that any equivalent communications service provided by new online players be covered by the same rules as traditional telecoms operators.

The Commission also proposes to modify the institutional set up for a better harmonisation of rules in Europe by reinforcing the competences of BEREC through a draft Regulation. 

The Proposals are now entering the EU legislative process. The Commission aims at an adoption until the end of 2017.

The electronic communications framework (telecom package) was set up in 2002, consisting of five directives which constitute a set of complementarity instruments: the Framework Directive (2002/21/EC), the Authorisation Directive (2002/20/EC), the Access Directive (2002/19/EC), the Universal Service Directive (2002/22/EC) and the Directive on privacy and electronic communications (2002/58/EC).
In the first review of the 2002 package took place in 2009, two Directives – the Better Regulation Directive (2009/140/EC) and the Citizens' Rights Directive (2009/136/EC) – have provided additional tools aimed to respond to the need to ensure more effective competition, consolidate the internal market and strengthen end-user's rights.
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) was established by the 2009 BEREC Regulation to contribute to a more consistent regulatory practice among national regulatory authorities and to advise EU institutions. BEREC started operations in January 2010 and became fully functional in 2011.

Source: European Commission Website