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January 28, 2010

New EU telecoms body starts work

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by Jan Harris

A new EU body tasked with boosting the EU single market for telecoms has met for the first time today.

Malcolm Harbour, the chairman of the European Parliament’s internal market committee for the European Conservatives and Reformists group was present at the launch.

Mr Harbour told the regulators from all 27 member states that the new Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) represents a model for regulating the single market - by allowing national regulators to continue to control their own markets, whilst cooperating at a European level to ease cross-border trade.

BEREC will also develop common plans to strengthen consumer rights, and encourage the roll out of ultra high-speed broadband.

During the early discussions on the so-called Telecoms package, which was passed last year, Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding had proposed a super-regulator to supersede the role of national regulators.

However, thanks to objections by Mr Harbour and other MEPs, the body that has met today is the opposite of her initial proposal - allowing for a bottom-up approach to regulation, rather than Commissioner Reding’s top-down proposals.

Mr Harbour said:

“Commissioner Reding continues to refer to the new telecoms body as an EU regulator, which is a false description.

“The creation of an EU super-regulator may have been her intention but the body that met was a collective team of national regulators who understand their domestic markets well, and want to open up their markets to competition and consumers right across the EU.

“I am pleased that our vision of a decentralised body has won through, rather than an all-encompassing and heavy-handed national regulator that would have endangered innovation in national telecoms markets through one-size-fits-all regulation.

“Now that this new body has begun work, I am confident that we will start to finally see the completion of a single market in telecoms, giving consumers greater choice and access to services and speeding up the development of new technology.”

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