EU - political agreement on the review of the regulatory framework

The Council of Ministers of Transport, Telecommunications and Energy of the European Union met on 27 November in Brussels, reaching a political agreement on a review of the EU's regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services, notwithstanding a number of abstentions. This agreement will serve as a basis for negotiations with the European Parliament (EP) with a view to formulating an understanding between the two institutions, at a second reading, before the end of the legislature.

Contrary to the intention of the EC and EP, with respect to setting up a community agency, the Council of Ministers approved a compromise proposal which only goes as far as giving formal status to the current group of national regulators - the ERG (European Regulators Group) - in the regulatory framework of the EU, without conferring it with a legal personality, giving it the designation of Group of European Regulators in Telecoms (GERT). The GERT will be charged with ensuring that the community framework is applied coherently throughout the internal market of electronic communications networks and services.  In this way its functioning will be improved, along with cooperation between Member States and the Commission. The group will be composed of the heads or high-level representatives of the national regulatory authorities with one member per Member State.

The ministers rejected the proposal to give the European Commission a right of veto over the decisions of national regulators, with the decision to veto being replaced by an ''opinion''.  However, the NRAs (national regulatory authorities) will be required to justify their positions where they go against the opinions of the EC.

The Council also opposed the EC's proposals to extend measures of harmonisation of spectrum use, considering that existing agreements between Member States went far enough.

On the other hand the ministers accepted proposals in respect of the imposition, by national regulators, of functional separation of networks (while stressing their exceptional character), as well as proposals to strengthen the rights of users and consumer protection, specifically with respect to the security of data handling.

Finally the Council of Ministers reached an agreement on a General Guideline on the review of the regulation on international roaming, in addition to exchanging points of view on the scope of the universal services and adopting conclusions on networks and the future of the Internet.

Conclusions of the EU Council of Transport, Telecommunications and Energy - 27 November 2008 (provisional version) - in French

Related information on ANACOM's website:

Electronic communications - Regulatory framework