Today the European Parliament published the report of the ITRE committee regarding the Connected Continent regulation proposed by Neelie Kroes, commissioner for the Digital Agenda, on September 11, 2013. The report constitutes a kind of counter-proposal to the Kroes’ attempt to substantially review the current framework for electronic communications. The result is not very good for the Commission: the Parliament intends to delete most of the proposals or to postpone them to an ad hoc reform to take place after the 2014 elections – in such a case, however, a new proposal could not take place before mid-2016, which means approval not before 2018. In other words, it is clear that the European Parliament, despite the commitment to vote on a first reading in April 2014, does not intend to bring the Commission’s proposal to a real conclusion under the current legislature. Nevertheless, the European Parliament is already defining the starting-point for the future review of the European Directives:
“The Commission shall perform a comprehensive evaluation and review of the entire regulatory framework for electronic communications, and shall submit a report with appropriate proposals to the European Parliament and the Council by 30 June 2016 in order to allow sufficient time for the legislator to analyse and debate the proposals properly”.
Amongst the several significant changes to the Commission’s proposal brought by the European parliament, I would highlight the following:
– Dramatic reform of Kroes’ roaming proposal: instead of a system of alliences and voluntary agreement to create a kind of “roam like at home”, the Parliament intends to definitively delete roaming surcharges by June 2016;
– Deletion of the single authorisation regime & replacing it by a standardised template notification to BEREC;
– Deletion of the Commission’s veto powers – NRAs will be more than happy;
– Deletion of most controversial access rules, such as Recital 38 (on the competitiveness of the retail market in the presence of two fixed NGA networks) and the entire section on the European virtual access products (deleting both the harmonised access products and Article 18 and referring this issue back to the Commission for the Framework review);
– Spectrum: new provisions on spectrum trading & minimum duration of all spectrum licences to be 30 years or longer (permitting also indefinite); this is impressive, by the way.
The rapporteur of the ITRE Committee, Pilar del Castillo, member of the PPE and with a long experience in the telecom sector, commented the report with a press release (in Spanish).
The committee IMCO (consumers) and CULT (culture) have rendered their opinion on the Connected Continent proposal. They are also quite critical, especially the IMCO’s one regarding the NN provisions (my next post will be about this subject). The CULT opinion is here.