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Commission calls for comments on draft notice on access agreements in telecoms

The European Commission has published a communication calling for observations on its draft notice on the application of the competition rules to access agreements in the telecommunications sector.

The draft notice, which forms part of the Commission's Action Plan for the Inf...
The European Commission has published a communication calling for observations on its draft notice on the application of the competition rules to access agreements in the telecommunications sector.

The draft notice, which forms part of the Commission's Action Plan for the Information Society, clarifies the role that the competition rules will play in resolving access problems. It does not establish new principles of competition law, but demonstrates how the existing principles will be applied to new types of problems occurring in the context of the liberalization of the telecoms sector.

Access agreements are central to allowing market participants to benefit fully from telecommunications liberalization. The purpose of the Commission's notice is threefold:

- To set out access principles stemming from EU competition law as shown in a large number of Commission decisions in order to create greater market certainty and more stable conditions for investment and commercial initiative in the telecommunications and multimedia sectors;

- To define and clarify the relationship between competition laws and sector-specific legislation under the Article 100A framework (in particular this relates to the relationship between competition rules and open network provision (ONP) legislation);

- To explain how competition rules will be applied in a consistent way across the converging sectors involved in the provision of new multimedia services, and in particular to access issues and gateways in this context.

The draft Notice deals with the relationship between the applications of the competition rules and sector-specific regulation. In particular, this refers to the ONP directives issued under the EC's Open Network Provision framework and national regulations. The second part defines, in general terms, relevant markets in the context of access agreements. In the third part, some principles regarding the application of Articles 85 and 86 to access agreements are developed.

The draft notice has been published for public consultation only. The final version of the notice will be adopted only once the ONP interconnection Directive has finally been approved by Parliament and Council. This will guarantee complete coherence between the ONP interconnection framework and the application of the competition rules as set out in the draft notice.

Observations on the draft notice must reach the Commission not later than 11 May 1997.
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