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Fourth report on telecommunications regulatory package

The fourth in a series of reports issued by the European Commission on the status of the implementation of the EU telecommunications regulatory package has recently been adopted by the European Commission. This exercise began in May 1997, with the purpose of informing the EU i...
The fourth in a series of reports issued by the European Commission on the status of the implementation of the EU telecommunications regulatory package has recently been adopted by the European Commission. This exercise began in May 1997, with the purpose of informing the EU institutions, governments, operators, market entrants and equipment manufacturers of progress in ensuring the transposition and application of measures adopted at the European level in the field of telecommunications since 1987.

The report focuses on the main provisions of the legislation and covers elements such as national regulatory authorities, licensing, interconnection, universal service, tariffs, numbering, frequency and rights of way. The overall conclusion of the report is that the bulk of the European rules have been implemented into national law and are being applied effectively in the Member States, with tangible benefits for the whole European economy.

As regards the transposition of EU rules into national law, the broad conclusion is that the transposition of the bulk of the regulatory package is complete. The report finds that the national regulatory authorities (NRAs) have also begun to implement the principles laid down in the regulatory package in all Member States, and are cooperating and exchanging information on a systematic basis with each other and with the Commission. There are however some concerns as to the sufficiency of the powers and resources available to them, the degree of separation from the body controlling the incumbent, and the clarity of the division of powers between the different bodies constituting the NRAs.

National licensing frameworks are also functioning well according to the report, with large numbers of new players authorised to enter the market and the procedures applied in practice also conforming broadly to legislative requirements. Remaining concerns largely relate to onerous licence conditions, the lack of transparency with regard to conditions and procedures, the level of fees and the length of time required in certain cases to issue licenses.

In addition, a significant number of interconnection agreements are already in place in the EU, however concerns remain as to the excessive length of negotiations, the scarcity of agreements in the fixed market, the inadequacy of some reference interconnection offers and the lack of transparency in cost accounting systems. There is however evidence in the report that interconnection charges are beginning to converge on best practice charges, which contributes to the level of service competition.

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