Council of the European Union adopts the Directive on European Electronic Communications Code and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (BEREC) Regulation

The reforms, which were formally adopted by the European Parliament last month, are part of the EU strategy to ensure high-quality fixed and mobile connectivity across the EU.

The Directive includes measures to encourage competition and stimulate investment in very high capacity networks. It covers areas such as spectrum allocation, operators’ access to networks and symmetric regulation of all network providers in specific situations.

Under the Directive, consumer rules will now also apply to services provided over the internet, such as messaging apps. Member States will also have to establish rules for compensation in the event of misconduct by providers of electronic communications networks or services.

All Member States will also have to set up a public warning system to protect citizens. This system will send alerts to people’s mobile phones in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other major emergency in their area. It will have to be in place within three-and-a-half years of the Directive entering into force.

The BEREC Regulation gives the regulator a revised remit such that it will be able to play a significant role in helping EU countries to roll out high capacity networks and contribute to the smooth application of the Directive.

New rules on cheaper intra-EU calls will cap the retail price of mobile or fixed calls from the consumer’s home country to another EU country at 19 cents per minute. The cap for intra-EU text messages will be 6 cents per message. The new caps will apply as early as 15 May 2019.

The Council vote concludes the legislative procedure for both pieces of legislation, which are due to be signed off on 12 December and published in the EU Official Journal on 17 December. Both pieces of legislation will enter into force three days after publication and Member States will have two years to implement the Directive.