Reding and telecom regulators agree on ‘federalisation’

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Shortly before the presentation of the Commission’s proposal for a review of the regulatory framework for telecommunications, Commissioner Viviane Reding and the European Regulators Group (ERG) have declared their joint support for far-reaching structural reforms. 

In a joint statement, the commissioner in charge of information-society issues and Robert Viola, the chairman of the group bringing together the heads of national telecommunication regulatory authorities, have endorsed earlier proposals made by both sides on reforming how regulators and the Commission work together. 

The 27 February 2007 statement confirms a mutual approximation between the Commission and regulators, following a consultation that revealed a number of inconsistencies in how EU telecommunication regulation is being applied throughout member states. It sums up a correpondence between DG Information Society and the ERG, which began with a 30 November 2006 letter from Reding to Viola and his predecessor, Kip Meek. On 27 February 2007, the ERG reacted with a letter of advice to Reding. 

Both sides agree on examining a number of reforms, including:

  • An enhanced role for the ERG in existing regulatory and legislative processes; 
  • the strengthening of the internal market powers of the Commission, and; 
  • the transformation of the ERG into a ‘federal system’ of National Regulators (possibly modelled on the European System of Central Banks).

They stress that “a combination of these” is also an option to assure what they consider the “most important issue” of the framework review, namely addressing “a concern with the perceived lack of consistency in remedies”. They add that the reform should also aim at assuring “an effective and timely response” in the case of alleged infringements of EU telecom rules. 

The approximation between the Commission and the ERG is also demonstrated by the recent agreement to host the ERG’s Brussels secretariat in one of the Commission’s buildings. Commissioner Reding said: “I value the advice of the ERG and intend to keep it closely associated to the further work of the Commission in this field.” Viola said: “The ERG welcomes the opportunity to advise the Commission, and sees the early engagement of the ERG in this initiative as the start of a constructive and collaborative relationship.”

 

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