18 December 2015

EU Telecoms Council holds policy debate on review of EU telecoms rules

On 11 December 2015, the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (Council) held a policy debate in relation to the review of the EU telecoms rules (Rules).

Revising the Rules falls under the second pillar of the Digital Single Market Strategy (shaping the environment for digital networks and services to flourish) and it is the intention of the Commission to review all existing legislation and make changes where necessary.  Proposals will be presented in 2016 with an emphasis on:

  • a consistent single market approach to spectrum policy and management;
  • delivering the conditions for a true single market;
  • ensuring a level playing field for market players and consistent application of the Rules;
  • incentivising investment in high speed broadband networks; and
  • promoting a more effective regulatory institutional framework.

Last week's debate had three areas of focus:

  • Next generation connectivity – the best methods of ensuring high-capacity networks are widely available even in less densely populated areas.
  • Equivalent treatment of equivalent services – considering ways to ensure equal treatment of equivalent services (for example, treating phone calls delivered through over-the-top content providers as equivalent to traditional phone calls) and maintain a high level of consumer protection.
  • Top priorities of the review – ministers were also asked to raise any other issues they think should be considered top priorities.

Xavier Bettle, who chaired the debate, explained that the ministers had much in common when discussing the key issues, with a few ministers highlighting the need for revisions to result in “modern, stable, light and future-proof laws”.  Ministers agreed on the priorities, as listed above, and also raised concerns such as ensuring widely available resilient and secure networks addressing consumer demand, as opposed to focusing purely on speed.

Xavier Bettle concluded that the discussions were “very fruitful”, in terms of preparing the proposals to be put forward next year.

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