National regulators round on EC telecoms proposals

Europe’s national regulatory authorities (NRAs) have rounded on proposed reforms by the European Commission (EC), arguing that regulation is being rushed through and will have dire implications for investment, competition and consumers across the region.

In a statement issued earlier this week, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), which represents the interests of Europe’s NRAs, expressed concern that new rules would mark a shift away from a pro-competition approach to one that favored market consolidation.

Europe’s national regulatory authorities (NRAs) have rounded on proposed reforms by the European Commission (EC), arguing that regulation is being rushed through and will have dire implications for investment, competition and consumers across the region.

In a statement issued earlier this week, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), which represents the interests of Europe’s NRAs, expressed concern that new rules would mark a shift away from a pro-competition approach to one that favored market consolidation.

BEREC also said there was risk that regulatory moves undermined “legal certainty” by aggregating “several unrelated measures” and failing to consider the EU Framework as a “coherent whole”.

Unsurprisingly, the group is worried that NRAs would be weakened if proposals come into force, with European Union authorities gaining more say over decisions affecting the region’s operators.

“These proposals risk undermining the ability of national regulators, whether acting individually or collectively, to take appropriate and proportionate regulatory action in all the relevant markets,” said BEREC.

The statement was issued days after the EC issued plans for a series of reforms it said would improve the investment climate for the region’s operators while also safeguarding competition and the interests of consumers.

Satisfying all the various stakeholders was always going to prove difficult, however, and the plans have met with a mixed reaction from operators, besides coming as a disappointment to BEREC.

While BEREC has complained about a leeching of power from the NRAs, the region’s biggest operators had hoped the EC would support an ambitious proposal to create a European super regulator more supportive than domestic regulators of moves to consolidate national markets.

Although the EC wants to introduce a single authorization system, allowing companies to operate in a variety of national markets under one permit, it backed away from anything bolder in this area.

Meanwhile, proposals on roaming and net neutrality could pile further pressure on operators that are already struggling amid tough economic conditions and fierce competition.