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A political agreement to update the EU's telecoms rules reached

On the night of 5/6 June 2018 the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement to update the EU's regulatory framework for electronic communications. The political agreement concerns the new directive establishing European Electronic Communications Code and the new BEREC regulation setting framework for the cooperation of regulators for electronic communications.

The agreed rules are to facilitate the achievement of EU's connectivity targets and provide everyone in the EU the best possible internet connection, so they can participate fully in the digital economy.

As the European Commission points out, the new Electronic Communications Code will:  

  • enhance the deployment of 5G networks by ensuring the availability of 5G radio spectrum by end of 2020 in the EU and providing operators with predictability for at least 20 years in terms of spectrum licensing; including on the basis of better coordination of planned radio spectrum assignments;
  • facilitate the roll-out of new, very high capacity fixed networks by making rules for co-investment more predictable and promoting risk sharing in the deployment of very high capacity networks; promoting sustainable competition for the benefit of consumers, with a regulatory emphasis on the real bottlenecks in access to infrastructure and a specific regulatory regime for wholesale only operators. The new rules will also ensure closer cooperation between the Commission and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) in supervising measures related to the new key access provisions of co-investment and symmetric regulation;
  • benefit and protect consumers, irrespective of whether end-users communicate through traditional (calls, sms) or web-based services (Skype, WhatsApp, etc.) by:   
    • ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable communications services, including universally available internet access;
    • ensuring that international calls within the EU will not cost more than 19 cents per minute, while making sure that the new rules would not distort competition, innovation and investment;
    • giving equivalent access to communications for end-users with disabilities;
    • promoting better tariff transparency and comparison of contractual offers;
    • guaranteeing better security against hacking, malware, etc.;
    • better protecting consumers subscribing to bundled service packages;
    • making it easier to change service provider and keep the same phone number;
    • increasing protection of citizens in emergency situations, including retrieving more accurate caller location in emergency situations, broadening the scope of emergency communications, and establishing a system to transmit public warnings on mobile phones. 
    • Once fully adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, Member States will have two years to transpose the Electronic Communications Code into national law.

      More information is available on the EC’s websites.