by CIO Staff

E.U. Drops 18 Cases as National Telecom Laws Kick In

Jul 07, 20063 mins

The European Commission on Friday said it terminated legal proceedings against 18 countries for infringing Europe-wide telecommunications industry laws, saying it is satisfied that national laws are achieving results.

At the same time, the commission opened five new cases and said three existing cases have been referred to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

“I am satisfied that national measures to enforce E.U. telecoms rules are getting results,” Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said. “It is good news for consumers that comprehensive directory and inquiry services are being made available in almost all member states.”

“Many users are also now availing themselves of the possibility, foreseen in E.U. rules, to keep their numbers when switching to cheaper operators. However, we remain vigilant and are launching new infringement proceedings whenever necessary,” she added.

Nine cases were closed following the adoption of new legislation at the national level. These concern Cyprus and Slovenia with regard to the independence of the national regulatory authority, Estonia concerning the powers of the national regulator, the Netherlands with regard to the Access Directive, Slovakia with regard to the Access and Universal Service directives, the Czech Republic and Latvia with regard to the ePrivacy Directive, and Sweden with regard to the transition from the previous telecoms rules to the current framework.

Another five pending cases were closed following the publication of a comprehensive directory and a comprehensive inquiry service in the Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Slovakia.

The commission has also closed three number portability cases since the service is now fully available in the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania. In Lithuania, some 33,000 numbers have been ported since number portability became fully available in February.

After the Greek parliament adopted the national ePrivacy Act on June 20 and the closure of another non-communication case (concerning transposition in Gibraltar), the 2002 regulatory framework is now formally transposed into the national laws of all member states.

Of the five new cases being opened, four concern nonconformity with Europe-wide rules ensuring the universal availability of essential telecoms services, in Belgium (Wallonia and Brussels), the Netherlands and Finland. The other case concerns the failure to grant “rights of way” in Cyprus, which has prevented new entrants from being able to offer services in competition with the incumbent.

Dutch and Finnish governments, as well as the regional governments of Brussels and Wallonia, will receive a letter of formal notice and have two months to reply.

Pending proceedings against three member states—Finland, Latvia and Poland—have been carried forward. European Court of Justice proceedings are being brought against Poland and Latvia for failing to ensure the publication of a comprehensive directory and a comprehensive inquiry service. Finally, Finland faces infringement proceedings for failing to ensure that its national telecoms authorities have sufficient powers to regulate the market for terminating fixed to mobile calls.

-Paul Meller, IDG News Service (Brussels Bureau)

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