New telecommunications regulatory framework almost approved

/ Updated on 17.10.2002

Commission gains right to veto sectorial issues and the Communications Data Protection Directive is delayed

On December 12, the European Parliament approved, in second reading, a compromise agreement within the scope of the 1999 Communications Review Package, that gives the European Commission the right to veto decisions of National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) in two areas:

  • Definition, at a national level, of relevant markets that differ from the definition in the Commission's Recommendation.
  • Designation of operators with Significant Market Power (SMP) provided that such decisions affect trade between Member States.

The Commission will also have strengthened powers to manage the radio spectrum.

The Commission's right to veto was the most sensitive sensitiveissue within the so-called 1999 Communications Review Package, and has caused some delay to the adoption of the new EU regulatory framework for electronic communications, which was planned for the end of 2001, in the Feira Summit and the eEurope Action Plan.

The new Regulatory framework, that now awaits formal approval in the Council of Ministers, includes a Directive on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive); a Directive on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (Authorisation Directive); a Directive on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and associated facilities (Access and Interconnection Directive); a Directive on universal service and users rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service and Users Rights Directive), as well as a Decision on a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the European Community.

The last element in the telecommunications package - the Fifth Directive, on the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Communications Data Protection Directive) - has incurred some procedural delay. In the last Council of Ministers, a corresponding Common Position was approved, which shall now be submitted to the European Parliament that will carry out a second reading. The process is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2002.