Saturday, November 08, 2008

Europe - regulation authority

EU scales back plan for telecom agency

The European Commission said Friday that it had scaled back its plans for a new telecommunications agency that would ensure consistent regulatory decisions by national authorities.

The original plan, which was announced last November, called for giving the commission more power over national authorities. The European Parliament vetoed that plan in September, calling for joint decisions by the commission and a new regulatory body made up of representatives of member states' authorities.

The commission said its new plan was based on the Parliament's vote and the wishes of the telecommunications ministers, who will decide on the measure on Nov. 27. To become European Union law, the Parliament and governments must approve the commission proposal.

"The European Parliament and council agree with the commission on the need to strengthen the EU single telecoms market," Viviane Reding, the EU's telecommunications commissioner, said in the statement. "We now need to move beyond this consensus on the objectives and reach agreement also on the concrete legislative texts."

National regulators can now rule that Europe's dominant telephone companies like Deutsche Telekom and France Télécom be required to open their networks to competition. The commission has clashed with governments that have tried to protect former monopolies from competition, prompting its call for more regulatory consistency.

The commission said the planned agency, to be called the Body of the European Telecoms Regulators, or BERT, would be "substantially smaller in size and competences than initially" planned.

"It will be a lean and efficient office that will focus on telecoms regulation," it said. The commission's original plan also covered spectrum and network security issues.

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