New Telecommunications Rules – Informal Agreement Reached

The European Parliament, Council and Commission have just concluded their negotiations on the new set of rules regulating the electronic communications sector. The Directive, establishing a new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), will streamline and modernise existing rules that have been in place since 2011.

The recent evolutions in the telecoms sector have resulted in formerly unknown types of market players, such as the over-the-internet services (Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger), plus an increased the demand for high-quality fixed and wireless connectivity. These new market dynamics have instigated the need for more comprehensive regulation.

The EECC aims to prepare Europe for the era of next generation technologies, such as 5G, by promoting investment, competition, consumer protection and the development of new innovative services. 

In order to ensure consumer protection, the EECC will address gaps where sector-specific needs are not covered by general consumer laws, including enhanced rules on contracts, transparency, quality of service, switching, termination and bundles. 

Additionally, the new set of rules will seek to improve the coordination and use of harmonised radio spectrum across the EU. This is to be achieved by, amongst other things, the establishment of minimum licence durations and stricter requirements on effective and efficient spectrum use. Provisions to coordinate the timing of spectrum assignments have been introduced and these facilitate the release of spectrum more efficiently across the internal market. The EECC will also aim at achieving more convergence in national spectrum policies.

The political agreement was reached on 5th June 2018. However, this agreement still needs to be formally approved by the European Parliament and Council plenaries.  

Over the past two years the MCA has been providing its technical advice to Government, and through its participation within BEREC to the EU institutions, in their discussions for the adoption of the EECC.  The MCA will be supporting Government in the transposition of the EECC within national laws, in line with the established timeframes, and consequently ensure the implementation of the new rules. 

Dr. Edward Woods, MCA Chairman, welcomed the news that political agreement had been reached by the EU institutions. Future-proof telecom rules are key to sustaining a competitive environment conducive to long-term investment in communications infrastructure and services. The review of these rules has been earmarked as a pillar of Europe’s Digital Single Market Strategy and yesterday’s agreement is an important step towards establishing a Gigabit society by 2025 throughout the EU.