December 19, 2016
BEREC says that the high level Opinion focuses on three important aspects of the Commission’s proposals: the scope of the framework, the access regulation and the institutional set-up.
In it, BEREC welcomes the introduction of an explicit connectivity objective alongside the promotion of competition, the internal market and consumer interests while explaining that, in practice, some of the new provisions on access regulation might not help the achievement of those objectives.
The Opinion reinforces the point (expressly acknowledged by the Commission) that there continue to be significant differences in market conditions, not only between Member States but even within individual Member States, and that flexibility to address the different conditions in those markets (against a backdrop of clear EU regulatory principles) will remain key. It also notes that sectoral regulation is only one of many levers; it cannot, on its own, incentivise investment in high-capacity networks or indeed demand.
BEREC welcomes the inclusion of a range of “over the top” (OTT) services in the scope of the legal framework, and the “measured approach” the Commission has taken towards levelling the regulatory playing field. However, BEREC is concerned that the proposal to fully harmonise consumer protection regulation will prevent regulators and Member States from responding to emerging challenges in their respective markets, or indeed from deregulating where justified.
BEREC also welcomes the proposed harmonisation of minimum competences for independent regulators, and the strengthening of the independence obligations. However, it says, the proposal to transform BEREC into an EU agency not only risks increasing the bureaucracy and cost of European telecoms regulation, but also undermines the benefits of the proposed strengthening of independence at national level. While there is scope for BEREC to improve its efficiency, this does not require a change to the current institutional balance, under which BEREC has successfully delivered over the last seven years, it says.
During the course of next year BEREC says that it will continue to assess the draft Electronic Communications Code and will seek to provide its expert views based on an in-depth analysis in a variety of topics, including also spectrum, to the European legislators. To access BEREC’s Opinion in full, click here.