Creation of ‘super regulator’ delayed in Europe

The creation of a super regulator for the European telecoms market could be delayed, after the European Parliament failed to agree on a package of reforms for the sector this week.

The so called Telecoms Reform Package, unveiled by Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner, in 2007, proposes a number of revisions to the electronic communications framework, the citizens’ rights directive and the establishment of a new European body of telecom regulators called BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications).

The parliament did agree on the creation of BEREC; plans to harmonise radio spectrum usage among member states; speedier number portability and a 24 month cap on telephone contracts; as well as clearer information of tariff and pricing structures.

However, the parliament was required to agree on the package as a whole, but rejected a proposal that would have allowed national authorities to kick internet users offline for illegally downloading copyrighted material without intervention from a court. As a result the whole package is now in danger of being shelved until after the European Parliament elections in the summer. The one saving grace might come about by national governments’ agreeing to let courts take care of illegal downloaders rather than government run authorities.

Telecoms ministers will meet in Brussels on June 12 to discuss the matter further, with EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding saying that “the ball is in the court of the Council of Telecoms Ministers to decide whether or not to accept this package of reforms.”

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